Back to beginning for Arts Council
By Jim Poole
The Schoharie County Arts Council is back.
Part of the Tri-County Arts Council for about 7 years, the Schoharie County version that formed in 1977 recently returned to its original base.
Arts Council officials and the New York State Council on the Arts “came to the same conclusion at the same time that we could better focus on funding sources,” Executive Director Renee Nied said on Thursday.
Also, she said, the Tri-County arrangement, which included Fulton and Montgomery counties, was too burdensome.
Michael Vandow, president of the Arts Council board, agreed.
“The distances were too great to get the representation we really wanted to develop,” Dr. Vandow said.
Fulton and Montgomery counties are now associated with Saratoga, Ms. Nied said.
For Schoharie County, the change should be dramatic, both she and Dr. Vandow said.
“By going back, we return to our mission of bringing excellent art experiences to our county,” said Dr. Vandow, who was the Arts Council’s first president and has been on the board since its inception.
Now based in the Head Start building––the former Aker School––the Arts Council has already had some successes.
In April, National Poetry Month, Ms. Nied started “Drive Thru Poetry. She provided businesses with drive-thru windows poems, and the clerk at the window asked customers if they’d like a poem with their orders.
With the economy crimping on-profits like the Arts Council, Drive Thru Poetry was an inexpensive way to promote art.
“For $14––that’s all it cost––we had to change somebody’s life,” Ms. Nied said.
She acknowledged that economic times are tough but pointed out that, like the poetry promo, art exhibits needn’t be expensive.
Ms. Nied is planning to get local artists’ work hung in businesses and sites around the county.
“I believe ‘accidental art’ is good,” she said. “Exposure to art is good.”
Larger events are coming up, too. Ms. Nied is bringing back Art Walk for Cobleskill Day on September 17 and is planning First Night in early 2012 and a jazz festival in April.
She’s also working with the tourism wing of the county Planning and Development Agency.
“We can work on Schoharie County being a cultural destination,” Ms. Nied said.
Although the Head Start space is suitable, she’s also looking for new quarters: An affordable 1,000 square foot space with an office, heat and a bathroom.
“We’d have space for programs, a gallery and lectures,” Ms. Nied said.
Dr. Vandow carried that idea further. He’s hoping to eventually develop a center for the arts in two or three years.
“We going in a new direction, the right direction,” he said. “We’re back to where we wanted to be.”