ONEONTA -- Like a phoenix, a local arts organization rises.

The Community Arts Network of Oneonta announced some new and renewed programs Wednesday as it evolves from the Upper Catskill Community Council of the Arts, an arts group formed more than 40 years ago with a more recent rocky spell.

"Tonight is a celebration of the rebirth of the spirit of UCCCA," Mayor Dick Miller said. "I have great hopes."

At Wilber Mansion, the 11 Ford Ave. home of the arts organization, CANO board President Raina D'Amico spoke to a privately assembled group of artists and arts supporters about the new and continuing factors of the group.

To go with its new name, CANO has a new website -- www.canoneonta.org, D'Amico said, and CANO worked with ISD, a computer and information technology company, on the site for six or seven months. The site will serve as a database for information about local artists, she said, and as collaborations grow with area arts and cultural groups, the website will provide links to events and activities.

CANO will continue to present events such as its fundraising Chili Bowl and offer new programs, such as a "Halloween bash," D'Amico said. Plans are to paint the mansion, she said, and negotiations are under way to make the carriage house near the mansion into a teaching facility again.

Guests applauded in support of the educational programming.

D'Amico introduced CANO board members and pledged, "we will be as transparent as we can be" as the group advances.

CANO has about 300 names on its membership list, but some of those memberships need to be renewed, D'Amico said, and CANO will be seeking new members. Membership for an individual costs $25, and members can be artists or art lovers, she said.

CANO is gearing up for its next event -- the 10th annual City of the Hills Arts Festival on Aug. 4.

Miller, who introduced D'Amico, reiterated the role that the arts have in fueling the local economy and enhancing the quality of life and sense of community.

Miller, who held two arts summits and established a task force, said he suggested that as UCCCA reorganized in the past 18 months that a name change include "Oneonta" as an anchor and highlight the role Oneonta has in its efforts.

"Because I'm so committed to Oneonta, I understand how important the arts community is," Miller said. "I'm all about Oneonta."

Christine Alexander, an abstract painter from East Meredith who exhibits through CANO, said she hopes the organization restores its vibrancy and the support it offered artists in past years. Artists can benefit from formal networking programs CANO might offer, she said, and CANO can be helpful in promoting the arts in these struggling economic times.

Artists are "very hopeful and excited" about CANO's future, Alexander said after the speeches.

"An arts organization is really crucial to us.'

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