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Apple Tree Arts Given Priscilla Mason Award

GRAFTON --. Apple Tree Arts received the Priscilla Mason Award for Cultural Contribution at a recent reception hosted by Alternatives Unlimited, Inc. and ValleyCast at the G.B. and Lexi Singh Performance Center at the Whitin Mill in Whitinsville.

 “Apple Tree Arts has been on our radar for a while,” explained David G. Kmetz, chairman of ValleyCast, a nonprofit cultural organization that stands for Blackstone Valley Culture, Arts, Science Together. “With their legacy of almost a quarter of a century providing outstanding music and theatre art programs to individuals of all ages, the organization was a perfect choice for the award,” Kmetz said.

Harry T. Whitin, cousin of Priscilla Mason and seventh-generation descendent of Paul Whitin of the Whitin family, who built the Whitin textile empire in Whitinsville, presented Apple Tree Arts with an original drawing and letter-art plaque by Whitinsville artist Maria Thomas.

In his remarks during the ceremony, Mr. Whitin noted “Art knows no boundaries. Apple Tree Arts understands that a strong community has built-in diversity. It’s particularly fitting to give this award to them,” he said. He explained how Priscilla Mason was committed to restoration and a patron of the arts which is similar to Apple Tree Arts’ commitment to preserve the Grafton Town House as performance arts center and mission to enrich the community though the arts.

The nonprofit community school of the arts was founded 24 years ago in Grafton. The organization began as The Apple Tree with two early-childhood classes for parents and toddlers taught by Donna Q. Blanchard, the executive director, at a historic church on the Grafton common. The program has grown tremendously to include early childhood music and movement education for children from birth to age nine, private instrumental and voice instruction, instrumental choral ensembles, yearlong theatre arts productions, student and faculty concerts and community events.

“Our organization is honored to receive this award,” Ms. Blanchard said. “We are enriching and connecting lives with the arts as we build a strong community with our music and theatre arts school. We bring people together by providing diverse styles of music to a broad cross section of the community,” she added.

Alternatives is a nonprofit human services agency currently serving over 2000 adults with developmental and psychiatric disabilities in 55 residential, employment and day programs throughout Central Massachusetts. For more information about Alternatives, please visit or call at 508-234-6232.

ValleyCast is a nonprofit cultural organization of which Alternatives, a human service agency, is the lead partner. Its mission is to build a strong, inclusive and creative community through a celebration of history, arts and science of the Blackstone Valley and surrounding areas.

Apple Tree Arts, a 501 (c) 3 organization, serves people of all ages throughout the Blackstone and Assabet Valleys. Founded in 1989, the organization’s mission is to enrich the community through the arts by providing high-quality educational music and theatre arts programs. The school provides a wide range of performances, special musical and theatre arts events year-round. For more information, visit or call 508-839-7440.