Extra Publicity as Addison Gallery Sponsors Competitive Paintball Team

Two Addison Gallery staff members have found a way to spend even more time with paint during their weekends—through a self-created competitive paintball team. Austin Sharpe, who works at the Addison Gallery of American Art on campus, formed the paintball team called “Northern Persuasion” in 2006. Jason Roy, another employee of the Addison Gallery, is also a member of the team, which is composed of 11 members from around Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Sharpe, captain of Northern Persuasion, asked Maggie Adler, the Development Director of the Addison Gallery, for a sponsorship for their team last March. The Addison agreed and financed the cost of team jerseys. In addition to supporting her colleagues, Adler saw this as an excellent opportunity to spread publicity for the Addison. With two Addison employees on the team, Adler thought it was creative way for the museum to garner more publicity. Northern Persuasion markets the Addison to anyone who shows interest at local tournaments. Sharpe carries extra Addison calendars in his bag for anyone who inquires about the museum. He said, “The public really enjoys hearing about businesses outside the paintball industry that support local teams.” Sharpe, Roy and other members of the team have extensive backgrounds in art. Both Sharpe and Roy have earned art degrees from UMass Lowell and now hold prominent positions in the Addison. Other members of Northern Persuasion are graphic designers, illustrators, art educators, printmakers, sculptors and theatre set designers. The members of Northern Persuasion are familiar with the Addison and often visit the museum. Roy and Sharpe agreed that “being sponsored by the Addison Gallery has been a real treat.” Roy said, “It’s a great feeling to be sponsored. We feel more like a team, and we feel like we’re accomplishing something.” Northern Persuasion is also sponsored by paintball companies: WDP, Redz International and Canobie Paintball. The majority of team sponsorships are by paintball supply companies. Although more paintball teams these days are being sponsored by companies outside of the industry, Roy said that it is still highly unusual for teams to be sponsored by an art museum. Adler wrote in the Addison online blog, “I suspect we may be the only museum… that can claim a paintball team as a point of pride.” Sharpe and Roy said that paintball is much more than a sport. It requires a lot of strategy, teamwork and skill in addition to athletic ability. There is also an artistic aspect to the activity. A lot of color and design is involved, and as Adler continued in the online blog, “The world of art would be nowhere without paint.” Building a good paintball team is a slow process. In a few years, Sharpe hopes his team will be ready to play in higher level tournaments, and ultimately, feeder leagues into the national level.