With a new name and a budget in the black, the Community Arts Network of Oneonta, or CANO, formerly the Upper Catskill Community Council of the Arts, or UCCCA, is letting everyone know the organization is rebuilding.
I sat down with Raina D'Amico, president of the CANO Board, to talk about what the name change really means and what community members can expect from this rebranded organization.
You have been on the board since 2005 and took over as president last winter. Why did you choose to join the board?
I moved up here from New York City where I was vice president creative director at Lord & Taylor.
After 35 years of being in the commercial end of the arts industry and having been an artist myself, I wanted to give service to a local arts organization.
In February, the organization announced it was changing its name to CANO, pronounced "kay-noh." How did this come about?
UCCCA was a very vital organization for many years and fell upon some hard times. Our former president helped us pull out of that. And now we are on a mission to change the perception about us and move forward.
We wanted to rebrand, which meant a new visual look. But the mission statement has not changed; it is still to link artists, to promote the arts and educate.
What are your major goals for CANO?
We want to grow. Our primary focus is to engage the community in the arts, network with the artists and really throw ourselves back into arts education, which is a major piece of what UCCCA was about.
So, what's in a name?
We didn't feel UCCCA had that wonderful sound to it … it sounds a little … well, ucky.
We wanted to take the best of what that old name meant. The two things we felt were most important were community _ and that's what we are, community arts _ and network. We wanted to get Oneonta in there because we are housed in Oneonta, and we are proud of it.
What else is involved in the change?
We are building a new website.
We are going to direct artists to our social networking page, where they can create a directory, post events and talk to other like-minded artists so there can be an exchange of ideas.
Have you felt any pushback from the community for the change to CANO?
I anticipated some pushback, but I think people are open and excited to see what's in store.
They want the organization to succeed and see we are enthusiastic about it, so they are supporting us.
How are you already starting to work with area organizations as CANO?
We are coinciding our exhibition schedule with the Oneonta Fabulous First Friday series. Every first Friday, CANO will have a new exhibition, usually tying into some other event.
We want to have the mansion open and available for a multitude of cultural activities.
Are there plans to re-hire a full-time staff? I understand this is a requirement to receive state decentralization funding.
That was one of the big decisions we had to make as a board several years ago. The entire budget was going to salaries. The state was cutting back a lot of funding, and we weren't getting the contributions we needed.
Is it in the plan? Yes, but it's much more long-term. We want to move slowly.
How do community members, who aren't artists or members of arts organizations, benefit from CANO?
Exposure to the arts is our mission. People who would normally stay home on a Friday night can come to a cultural event and enjoy great conversation. We serve great food _ we have Ommegang beer. It becomes a social activity. Then, when you're there you say "my gosh, this is such a vital part of the community, maybe I can help some way."
What would you like the community to know about CANO?
We're back on track. We are serious about promoting the arts. We want to be a part of the community, and we want the community to be a part of our organization.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 'Around The Arts' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/aroundthearts.