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Boston Univ.'s Tanglewood Institute Exploring Usage And Partnerships At Lenox Campus

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Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute is exploring ways to expand the use of its campus in Lenox and create partnerships in the region.The 64-acre campus is used only eight weeks out of the year as some 350 high school students from across the globe flock to Lenox for BU’s residential summer music programs. Hilary Respass is executive director of BU’s Tanglewood Institute.

“Developing more of a shared vision of what we can be,” Respass said. “Part of that is being part of the Berkshire community. We’re there for a significant segment of the year, from June through August, and really knowing how we fit in the community and who our partners can be.”

BUTI administrators and local leaders recently toured the campus, an effort helped along by State Representative Smitty Pignatelli. The Democrat says he hadn’t been on the campus in about 25 years even though he lived right across the street.

“I was actually quite impressed,” Pignatelli said. “I think the town is very interested in trying to help out BU if they need our help. It’s one of the great estates of Lenox, which we’ve done a great job over the last 40 years trying to preserve these grand estates. This is another one that may fall into disrepair.”

For nearly 50 years, the Tanglewood Institute has called home the West Street campus, valued at roughly $6 million, purchasing the site for about $600,000 in 1980. It has a strong relationship with and is located about a mile from the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Music Center, which draws more than 300,000 people for performances by popular artists each summer while also offering instructional programs for those in college. With 13 campus buildings, Respass says the main mansion, called Groton Place, which used to house Windsor Mountain School and Berkshire Country Day School’s high school program, is the primary focus if year-round campus use becomes part of the Institute’s plan.

“It has a beautiful library and dining facilities,” Respass explained. “It has places for people to stay upstairs.”

BUTI has applied to the town of Lenox for Community Preservation grants. Respass joined the Institute in August 2014 to strengthen the program and its finances. With tuition for summer programs ranging from $2,000 to $7,000, she says the Institute is looking to balance financial aid support and Boston University’s other priorities.

“Continue to steward things in a good way and create other sources of income whether it’s more contributing income or earned income in another way from use of facilities,” Respass said. “We just need to explore all of these options in order to create a strong, diverse sustainable model for the future.”

Respass says BUTI is open to ideas about potential partnerships in the community.

“We love to be there and want to continue to be there,” she said. “And we’ll need the community in order to stay there.”

Pignatelli says expanding the community’s use of the campus will be mutually beneficial.

“If we can partner with them to expand that eight-week season that they currently have into more of a year-round vibrant campus in the center of Lenox I think it’s going to benefit BU and be a great benefit to the community as well,” said Pignatelli.

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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