In 1998, the factory town of North Adams, Massachusetts was in the middle of a transformation.
Fourteen years before, Sprague Electric has closed its doors for good, leaving half the town's 8,000 adult residents without jobs. But with a $35 million economic development grant, the former Sprague Electric campus was now become home to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (or Mass MoCA).
Filmmaker Nancy Kelly, a North Adams native, set out to see if "something as ephemeral as contemporary art can breathe life into a dying city."
"How could it be possible that tens of thousands of tourists would flock to the post industrial wasteland North Adams had become? To see contemporary art? It seemed crazy, impossible," Kelly said in her director's statement. "But I knew from personal experience how over the past 10 years, the Jesse Helms of this world had viciously attacked art as a waste. So if art could do some good in North Adams, as a filmmaker, I wanted the world to know."
Her resulting film, Downside Up, will be screened this Sunday, December 6th, at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in connection with the UrbanArt Commission. It starts at 2 p.m. and is free for members; $5 for non-members.
To view the film's trailer, click here.