Free Local Talent Variety Show to Launch BerkShares Program at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

iBerkshires - The BerkShares local currency program will have its grand kick off on Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 PM at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center with a free local variety show showcasing over 25 area musicians, dancers and artists. The show offers everyone in the family the opportunity to be entertained for free while being able to see and admire the newly-renovated, beautiful Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. Talented local performers who will be participating include dancers from Berkshire Pulse, Vikki True, Drs. Joe Gold and Brian Burke from Barrington Jazz Quartet, the HooDoo Rhythm Dogs, Martina Laska and many more. Emcee for the evening will be passionate South County supporter and State Representative Smitty Pignatelli. Tickets to the show are free and available in advance at the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce's Visitor and Information Center at 362 Main Street in Great Barrington seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m, (413-528-1510) and at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center Box Office between noon and 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The box office can be reached at (413) 528-0100. Southern Berkshire Chamber President, and Vice President of BerkShares, Inc. Louann Harvey points out that "BerkShares is all about supporting the local economy, which also happens to be an essential part of the mission of the Chamber. This collaboration between the SBCC and BerkShares, Inc. along with the E.F. Schumacher Society is truly a win-win situation in that it really supports local businesses and institutions in a very direct way while working to bring more local business to our Chamber members." BerkShares are a local currency designed for use in the Southern Berkshire region of Massachusetts with issue by BerkShares, Inc., a non-profit organization working in collaboration with the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, participating local banks, local businesses, and local non-profit organizations. Citizens may exchange federal dollars for BerkShares at Berkshire Bank - Main Street, Gt. Barrington office; Lee Bank - Main Street, Great Barrington office; Pittsfield Cooperative Bank - Main Street, Gt. Barrington office; and Salisbury Bank - Egremont office and Sheffield office. The exchange rate is ninety cents per BerkShare. Ninety federal dollars will yield one hundred BerkShares. BerkShares are printed in 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 denominations. In essence, using BerkShares provides a 10 percent discount at participating businesses. Some restrictions apply and each participating business can give details on any specific restrictions. In the spirit of community pride, each BerkShare features a prominent local figure from the region's dynamic and rich history: the Mohican Indians of Stockbridge, W.E.B. Du Bois, Robyn Van En, Herman Melville and Norman Rockwell. As an added attraction on the night of the show, four of the five artists whose artwork appears on the BerkShares currency will be displaying their art in the lobby of the Mahaiwe. They include Morgan Bulkeley, Jr., Bart Elsbach, Joan Griswold and Janet Rickus. For complete background on the BerkShares program and for a directory of the over 130 participating businesses and organizations (as of late September), check the website at which provides detailed information. The directory and website will be updated often as new participants sign on so be sure to check it often. The Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce provides members with ongoing support through new business contact opportunities at monthly Business After Hours, as well as Quarterly Breakfast meetings, its annual Gala Auction, free educational seminars, and worldwide exposure on its website . The Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce supports and fosters community prosperity by advancing the economic, civic and social welfare of the Southern Berkshire region. In addition to the business office on Railroad Street in Great Barrington, the chamber operates a Visitor and Information Center at 362 Main Street also in Great Barrington that is open year round.