You’ve heard the expression, the ‘earth’ without ‘art’ is just ‘eh’. Well, the Milford Arts Council is not only proving this expression’s validity, but they’re also proving that the thriving heart of the community wouldn’t be complete without art. Painting murals across town, hosting special programs, and donating to charitable service groups, this organization brightens up both Milford’s buildings and people’s faces.
The MAC, as it’s more commonly known, calls its home the eastbound train station. Even though they had already been organized and certified as a member organization with the state for almost two decades, it wasn’t established as their home until the mid to late eighties when a man named Henry Jadach, who worked in Milford Transit, presented them with this venue.
Located downtown at 40 Railroad Avenue South, the significance of this building stems beyond being a historic landmark from the civil war era. In fact, Jadach had gotten married there. However, the Department of Transportation and Metro North long since abandoned the old train station, so the MAC needed grants to repair the structural and water damage and to remove the raccoons that lived inside. Jadach hugely supported and pushed for the completion of this project, being that it held such a special place in his heart. Now, it holds a special place in Paige Miglio’s heart.
Paige Miglio, coming up on her seventh year as Executive Director of the Milford Arts Council, said, “It’s been a blessing and a love of mine to be here.” Not only did she grow up drawing, doodling, singing, and dancing in her household, she also had the influence of her symphony director father to spark her interest in the arts, especially philanthropy and the arts together. Miglio’s father was a founding board member for the Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven, leading the cause for using art to elevate both the community and business alike.
Miglio carried this ideology in the back of her mind as she attended and then graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelor of Arts in Illustration. Working for D.C. Heath and Houghton Mifflin in Boston, she spent a few years as an art buyer and designer for educational publishing. Then, she helped a professor of hers start a children’s book studio, presenting portfolios, designing books, finding manuscripts, developing projects, and sometimes managing freelance projects with other designers as well.
After having children and before gaining her official title with the MAC, Miglio involved herself in grant writing, project development, and program management as a “PTA mom.” This allowed her to combine being a parent with her passion for the arts. Even when she wasn’t working, she remained an active volunteer, developing sites, sponsors, and projects for artists to do murals around town.
The mural painted on the side of the Bridge House Restaurant is one that she helped bring to fruition. Along with Bill Meddick, the executive director of Murals of Milford, Miglio also got two other artists to paint the side of The Ship’s Store at Milford Boat Works and above the front entrance inside of Colony Grill. It is clear that with her background, Paige Miglio was made to fill and be fulfilled in her current role as Executive Director.
She continued her expression of heartfelt gratitude and determination for expanding the Milford arts in saying, “Every single resident and business owner should be extremely proud to have a venue and an organization like this that is [heavily] supported by the city of Milford.” One thing that the MAC is proud of regarding their venue is that they have a theater facility with lighting, stage equipment, and seating for over one hundred people. Because of this, they are able to host some wonderful events and programs for the town.
They have a live music program, titled Live at the MAC. They offer everything from bluegrass, blues, country, classical, indie, and jazz. They’re starting a new program to promote up and coming artists, which is a standing room only concert on Tuesday nights called Emerging Artists. They offer a month-long theatre camp, which is run in co-production with Pantochino Productions, a separation nonprofit organization. They co-produce Nite Spot Nights, which brings in New York, cabaret, and Broadway performers.
Furthermore, the Milford Arts Council brings together different clubs and groups, such as visual artists, thespians, directors, writers, and musicians to support each other. One such group is the Eastbound Theatre, which is Milford’s own community theatre group. They do three month-long productions: one in the fall, one in the winter, and one in the spring. They support New England Guitar Society, which brings in four classical guitar concerts, one with a regional United States guitarist, another two international guitarists, and one local school. The list just keeps going and growing.
Yet, Milford residents should know that the MAC is more than a place for fun and entertainment; it’s a place for expanding your mind and for relieving stress. “The arts can do so much, but it can also give a voice,” Miglio said. The MAC uses this voice the most when, once or twice a year, they collaborate with other non-profit or charitable service groups. They have had small work auctions, donated small pieces by local artists, given $2000-worth of art supplies to the Boys and Girls Club, given $1600 to a local dog rescue group through a benefit performance of one of the plays, and offered the facility for a very small rent to fundraising programs with Bridges and United Way. The word small may have been used many times in that sentence, but the MAC truly has a big heart.
Milford’s slogan, a small town with a big heart, rings true here, and with the work of the MAC, Milford is evermore a small town with big art. Whether you’re looking at the art on their gallery walls or at the murals across town, you don’t have to look far to see the impact they’re having on the community. With philanthropy as one of their core values, the MAC is at the core of what makes Milford great.