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Around The Arts

April 16, 2011

Around the Arts: Arts organizations thrive on community input

As a native Floridian who grew up in the arts, seasons were generally marked by arts events _ the fall concert, winter show choir performances, the spring play and the summer craft festivals.

I find myself marking the seasons the same way in central New York _ mainly because the lake I see every day on my way to work is known to still be frozen in places up until mid-May. How else will I know it is spring if not for the promise of Cooperstown Central School's spring play?

With spring comes regeneration. The season inspires us. We may set new personal and professional goals _ clean out the closet, plant a garden. A recently published survey conducted by telephone stated that 72 percent of Americans planned to clean or organize their home this spring. The season is synonymous growth _ and that is just what Cherry Valley Artworks has used the spring season for.

A few weeks ago, the organization hosted a community input meeting and invited local and regional community leaders and arts professionals to offer ideas and advice for future programming and development in light of its recent acquisition of the former Village Hall and Theater.

Artworks Executive Director Jane Sapinsky said, "The only way a project like this can succeed is to make sure it meets the needs of the community and the surrounding area. Getting ideas and input from many different sources will be very helpful to us in planning for the future and the enthusiasm shown by so many people was truly inspiring."

Cherry Valley Artworks was founded in 2004 to promote the art, culture and rich history of its community. You may have heard of its Kite Festival, which features an all-day outdoor "fly," kite-making workshops, hayrides and more. Cherry Valley Artworks serves as a forum for artists and others interested in the arts and works to generate a promise of a vital community. In 2006, it received formal nonprofit status as a 501(c)(3), and in 2009 the organization signed a long-term lease on a new theater _ the Star Theater, in Cherry Valley's old Village Hall.

In addition to the Kite Festival and other events, Artworks has presented the Cherry Valley Summer Sculpture Trail for three years and hopes to do it again this year. The organization has shown films before, but without its own space it was a sporadic occurrence. Artworks hopes to do regular film programming once the building is a little further along, Sapinsky said.

In fact, this June the organization will screen "Beautiful Darling," a documentary film that pays tribute to the short but influential life of actress Candy Darling, in the new Star Theater.

The film won best documentary at the 2010 Chicago International Film Festival. According to Sapinsky, the film's director has a home in Cherry Valley and will be present for a talk and Q&A. Another connection _ Candy Darling is actually buried in Cherry Valley cemetery.

Later this summer, Artworks is inaugurating a series of three concerts on Sunday evenings in August. For more information on these events and Cherry Valley Artworks, visit the organization's Facebook page.

The expansion of local arts organizations is stimulating for the entire community. I love hearing of these plans in early spring, when we are still waiting for the ground to thaw. Arts organizations, like Artworks, are constantly looking for feedback to better serve their communities. Feel free to contact your favorite organizations and help them with their spring cleaning.

Brittany Lesavoy is secretary of Arts-Otsego, the alliance of Otsego County arts organizations, and director of public relations for The Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown. Column ideas may be sent to 'Around The Arts' columns can be found at

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