Many people would consider being the creator of a respected local arts center to be perhaps the crowning achievement in their career. For Michael Moran, it wasn't enough, so he created another one.
The irrepressable Moran, with his signature black fedora and colorful ties, recently announced his retirement as executive director of Amazing Things Arts Center, one of Framingham's most vital arts institutions. After founding the organization in a small storefront in Saxonville's Pinefield shopping center in 2004, Moran then moved the burgeoning venue to the former fire station downtown on Hollis Street.
There, he presided over a vast array of events each week, up to three hundred a year, ranging from musical performances in every imaginable genre, to plays, to art exhibits. Instead of having to travel to other towns or cities like Boston, Cambridge, or Worcester for top-notch live entertainment, we instead can experience it right in our own town. Amazing Things in fact now attracts many people from other cities and towns, and has been a huge boost to the efforts to revitalize downtown.
I met Michael about twelve years ago when he was running The Center for Arts in Natick (TCAN), out of a downtown storefront at first, and later in another former fire house a block or so away. I was performing in TCAN's spoken word open mike, and after I discovered all the other events the center offered I became a frequent patron.
Soon after securing the fire house as the organization's new home, Moran was fired by the board of directors. Rather than receding from the local arts scene after this painful experience, he brought his energy and a small army of loyal volunteers with him to Framingham to start Amazing Things. He put in brutally long work weeks for years, built the organization up, both people and program-wise, and at 65, he's decided it's time to step down.
Moran will be finishing out the year and assisting with the transition to a new executive director, and, thankfully, will still play a role, working on bookings.
Framingham owes a debt of gratitude to a guy who has selflessly done amazing things for our town.