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Northampton Center for the Arts Produces Their Last First Night

Northampton Center for the ArtsNORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB) –It’s a marathon of sort, Northampton’s First Night, a 12 hour long New Year’s Eve celebration.

Luckily the acrobats don’t have to perform for that length of time, because the day includes everything from improv to an Elvis impersonator.

After nearly 30 years, First Night has morphed into a family tradition. “The Northampton Center for the Arts has been producing it for 28 years, and this is the last year that our organization is producing it,” said Penny Burke is First Night’s Executive Producer.

She’s also and Executive Director of Northampton’s Center for the Arts.

Burke says it started off as a small festival that became a huge celebration, which grew too big for the tiny organization behind it. “Over the years it’s really been under the auspice of this small non-profit arts center. We love and we enjoy it but it’s a popular event. Coincidentally, this is the year we are losing our longstanding lease here,”

While the Center for the Arts focuses on raising money to buy and refurbish their own building downtown, they’ll step back from running the show. “If you’re worried about what’s going to happen to first night, don’t be. It’s not going anywhere, but, Penny is, “I’m not stepping down as Director of the Center for the Arts, but as the Director, for the center, part of my job is to coordinate First Night. Which I’ve done. 28 years is a good run, 10 is a good run for me. But I don’t expect the event to fall entirely on my shoulders,” Burke smiled.

She says she hopes to see the event continue to grow. First night serves as a fundraiser for the non-profit.

Burke adds that fundraising for a new building has been going on for the last 5 years, and estimates it would cost several million dollars to purchase and refurbish a downtown building.

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