How did it all begin?
40 Years Ago . . . two men appeared on the doorsteps of Salisbury Manor, an historic 1730 stone manor house which had just been opened to the public as Salisbury Manor Antiques & Eccentricities. They introduced themselves to the proprietor, Kay Stamer, as Bill Cook, Greene County’s Economic Developer and Promotion Director, and Ed White, Coordinator for the Greene County Bi-Centennial Celebration. In the course of conversation over several visits they discovered that the proprietor’s background included careers in theatre and design. On a subsequent visit they asked if the proprietor would like to start an Arts Council. The response: “What’s an Arts Council?” was met with an explanation, not entirely clear at the time, that included elements of service and support for the arts and artists in all disciplines, fostering and nurturing the growth of the arts, etc. And for these government representatives a driving factor behind the need for an Arts Council in Greene County was the discovery that 55 cents per capita of our tax dollars was set aside for the arts and there were no organizations in the county applying to get our money back. Aaah.
Starting something to benefit the arts had a special appeal to the proprietor. As soon as Stamer said “why not?” they asked if they could have the first meeting in her house. Aha!
Undaunted, the proprietor agreed to host several more meetings in her home. The group expanded to include several well known community leaders, who also happened to be artists, and a representative from the New York State Council on the Arts. Among those present at the initial meetings were Bill Cook and Ed White, the fellows who set everything in motion, John Wessel from the NYSCA, Dena Crane who became our first Executive Director, a volunteer lawyer for the arts, Ruben Garcia, Nan Guterman, Claudia Lane, Jim Starr and Kay Stamer.
We succeeded because we didn’t know we shouldn’t. We had the right mix of acronym speakers, grant writers, government reps, lawyers, visionaries, artists and community stalwarts. Guided by our NYSCA representative, we developed a strategy and took our show on the road to introduce our concept to the people of Greene County and seek their input. Through this public input, we honed our priorities and developed a plan for programs and services. As an added bonus, since the meetings were held in strategic locations throughout the county, we met new friends who became active in the development of the Arts Council.
We created a mission, developed by-laws, formed a Board of Directors, and filed the requisite government papers. The Honorable George L. Cobb approved our Certificate on April 6, 1976. According to a letter from our attorney, Robert J. Kafin, our incorporation as a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3), corporation became official on May 3, 1976.
September 6 – Steering committee established to assess need for local arts council. Public meetings were held in Tannersville, Athens, Cairo and Catskill
November – 1st Fundraiser for GCCA: “House Tour and Crafts Exhibition at Salisbury Manor” drew approximately 1000 people who paid $1 each. Kay’s five year old daughter, Elizabeth Jane, assisted.
2018-GCCA is 42 years Strong and still growing! Your donation allows art to reach people of all ages through GCCA programs. Please make a donation by clicking on the donate image…one inspiration leads to another! Thank you.
Spring – A survey of school kids was conducted to assess their needs
May – Dena Crane appointed first Executive Director of GCCA, Ed White became President
July – GCCA awarded first grant of $6,000 from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA)
August – Introduction of “Portfolio” published weekly in Weekender Edition of Daily Mail – a four page spread highlighting artists and cultural organizations.
August – The county and GCCA funded a visiting artists series in recreational centers throughout the county
September – First issue published of “News”, GCCA newsletter
December – GCCA opened office space and gallery in the Athens Community Center
January – GCCA received $1500 from the Erpf Catskill Cultural Center to participate in a cultural survey of the Catskills. $500 was received from the Sayour Foundation for operating expenses and cultural activities.
March – GC Promotion Dept and GCCA designed and distributed an arts brochure
March – GCCA sponsors crafts persons capable of wholesaling in International Crafts Fair at the Coliseum in New York.
April – “Young People’s Art Workshops” initiated, sponsored by the State Division for Youth and GCCA
June – O’Connor Foundation grants GCCA $1000 for membership development
Summer – GCCA replaces newletter with newspaper format “The Greene County Arts Season” produced in cooperation with the Daily Mail newspaper.
August – GCCA inaugurates Media Team with 6 specialists funded through the federal Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA).
August – Paul LaPierre becomes President
September – GCCA facilitates artists in schools through BOCES
September – GCCA facilitates Crafts Trail of the Catskills coordinated with Lt. Gov’s office, Anna McIntosh
October – Media Team begins providing promotional campaigns to organizations including television and radio spots, in-depth reporting, press releases, graphic design and photography. Services were free. Clients provided supply costs and expenses.
October 22 – Membership party at Catskill Country Club to celebrate 1 year of “Portfolio” in Daily Mail Weekender
December– GCCA began first in a series of “Concerts in Historic Sites” with partial funding from NYSCA
May – First annual Spring Showcase at Greenville HS featuring LCT, Sabina Foote Free Movement Dance Company, Rich Kuperberg Mime Theatre Company, Brown’s Crossing, Ruben Garcia (dance), Felicity Foote’s Greenwich Ballet Company, Suzi Castellanos (puppet shows) and Bert Castellanos (sets).
August – Ariel Dougherty replaces Dena Crane as Executive Director, Kay Stamer becomes President
October – GCCA awarded $2000 from the Visual Arts Program of NYSCA for gallery programs
December – 350 elementary school children visit “Americana show at GCCA Gallery in Athens
January – ARTSREACH project started, funded by CETA with five people working on developing indigenous art of Greene County and establishing a regular audience for various arts activities. Business Reach was started led by Thomas Culp.
February – 1st “Artists Do the Mountains” paint out coordinated by Elaine Scull of Hudson River Associates
June – GCCA opens Mountain Top Gallery in Windham thanks to massive artist volunteer labor and support
August – Ruben Garcia becomes President
January – GCCA receives first funding of $14,000 from the County for ongoing programs and services
February – GCCA inaugurates Catskill Gypsy Cinema
Summer – GCCA moves from Athens to Catskill – opens Catskill Gallery and offices
August – Eric Egas replaces Ariel Dougherty as Executive Director, Bob Turan becomes President
Spring – Major research project begun with goal of publication and traveling exhibition of Hudson River School painters “Lives and Studios”
August – Ulla Darni becomes President
September – GCCA organizes first official meeting of Greene County Cultural organizations to meet and share information and successes
November – GCCA sponsors artists in “Artists & Artisans of the Catskill Region” at the Empire State Plaza Concourse
June – GCCA installs display cases at the Amtrak Train Station in Hudson
July – Kay Stamer replaces Eric Egas as Executive Director, Enrico Scull becomes President
August – GCCA appeals to County Legislature for funding of major county arts organizations
Fall – The Poets’ Forum is initiated – a series of public readings coordinated by Allen Kovler. The Poets’ Forum continued through 1985 with funding from NYSCA’s Literary Program.
Fall – CETA program ends. GCCA struggles to maintain programs and services with greatly reduced staff. CETA funded Media Team and Artsreach programs end. Youth Artsreach continues with funding from the Greene County Youth Bureau.
January – GCCA receives additional $10,000 from County to regrant to major county arts organizations. The Greene County Cultural Fund is born.
July – Jaap Penraat becomes President
Spring – GCCA publishes First Annual Literary Supplement produced by Leonard Seastone and Allen Kovler
Fall – First Arts Ball fundraiser with live and silent auctions
June – GCCA presents first Riverboat Cruise featuring Skip Parsons Riverboat Jazz Band
July – GCCA is placed on NYSCA’s “Primary List” of organizations throughout the state
July – GCCA receives first Arts in Education grant funds from NYSCA
July – GCCA receives first Decentralization regrant funds from NYSCA
July – Ernie Reis becomes President
July – “Sprouts” (initially called “Dandelion”) summer arts workshops for children ages 3 to 5, is created by Board member Gretchen Mallory. This program is added to our ongoing Youth Artsreach programs.
November – Guy Chirico becomes President
Summer – GCCA buys its building on Main Street in Catskill
October –David Slutzky becomes President.
Summer – “Charmed Places” exhibition accompanied by book opens at Bard and Vassar Colleges; the culmination of years of research by GCCA begun in 1981 as “Lives and Studios”.
March – David Kukle becomes President
Spring – Distinguished Service Award is created by Board member Barry Hopkins
August – John Griffin becomes President
August – Betty Cure becomes President
Fall – GCCA begins remodeling its building on Main Street in Catskill to accommodate a first floor gallery with handicap accessibility, conference room and offices on second floor, third floor studio space. A grant from the Architecture, Planning & Design Program of NYSCA was matched by over $50,000 of in kind labor and donations. A talented artist volunteer construction team headed up by Karl T.Anis was crucial to accomplishing this major renovation which we dubbed “the miracle on Main Street”.
Spring – GCCA hosts a grand opening of the new gallery on Main Street with an exhibition entitled “Greene County Folk Arts Today” curated by Field Horne. Funding was received from NYSCA’s Folk Arts Program. An accompanying publication was produced by Black Dome Press.
Summer – NYS funding for the arts plummets by 45%. The county and Senator Cook come to the rescue with support for staffing and a multitude of in kind services. GCCA struggles to maintain programs and services with greatly reduced staff.
David Slutzky becomes President
Woodstock ’94 – GCCA participated with 420 volunteers operating food concessions for Fine Hosts. For our efforts we made $25,000.
January – First issue of GCCA’s redesigned quarterly newspaper “Arts Alive” published by The Daily Mail which became Hudson Valley Newspapers. In 1999 GCCA and Hudson Valley Newspapers won coveted “New York State Millennium Arts and Business Partnership Award” from the Arts & Business Council.
Façade and Main Street Revitalization Programs begins in partnership with newly formed Heart of Catskill Association and funding from the Architecture, Planning & Design Program at NYSCA and Rural Preservation League.
GCCA assumes administration of NYSCA Decentralization regrants for Columbia County.
GCCA joins Greene County’s Committee 2000 to plan for the future. Works in partnership with county to restore the historic Catskill Point and establish an Arts & Crafts Market, workshops and performances in the former warehouse building.
April – “Arts Alive” publication and distribution expanded in July 1998 to cover Columbia County cultural news, under the management of Betts-Riedinger Associates.
GCCA provides performers and artisans for the grand opening of historic Catskill Point
GCCA sponsors first Jazz Festival at historic Catskill Point with $25,000 underwriting from the Troy Savings Bank and considerable in-kind support from the GC Tourism Dept.
GCCA establishes Arts & Crafts Market and Music at the Market to accompany Cooperative Extension’s Farmer’s Market at historic Catskill Point
Jazz at the Point continues for the 2nd year.
Hudson Valley Regional Festival joins GCCA in presenting year three of Jazz at the Point.
GCCA’s major fundraiser, the Beaux Arts Ball, received a significant boost with the creation of benefactor levels and refined procedures for the silent auction. Net proceeds increased from $20,000 to $50,000 in a single year.
To celebrate exceptional artist mentors and teachers, Visual Arts Director Donna Barrett created our first “Honor Roll” to coincide with our annual Youth Arts Exhibit in March. Contributions are made to support artistic and cultural programs in memory of or to honor someone who made a difference in the donor’s life. The honor role is visible at the Youth Arts Exhibit and featured in Arts Alive. This program continues to generate significant revenues and will continue in the foreseeable future.
Senator Seward and former Assemblyman Daniel Hooker, awarded legislative grants totally $25,000. Senator Seward provided $20,000 which replaced the roof on our Catskill building. Another $5,000 from former Assemblyman Hooker helped us update our computer network.
“I Love You Greene” inaugurated with writers’ salon and features in Arts Alive.
The Heart of Catskill Association/Catskill Chamber of Commerce created a fabulous program called “Cat n around Catskill”. Many of our artists were involved in transforming the cats into wonderfully imaginative, humorous, attention getters. The streets were packed with visitors – cameras in hand – and the auction in September was a great success. GCCA was the beneficiary of $10,000 from the proceeds! Thank you HOCA!
Catskill initiated a Saturday Studios on the third Saturday of each month in addition to the popular 2nd Saturday Stroll. Saturday Studios was created by the new Catskill Gallery Association to provide a focus on arts and cultural activities.
The Windham Arts Alliance now has annual Studio Tours and other special events to promote the arts. And, the Catskill Mountain Foundation continues to expand its artistic horizons, providing a wealth of activity on the mountaintop.
A major loss was felt with the passing of our dear friend and 1st Vice President, Barry Hopkins. Words cannot describe the hole he has left in the fabric of our community and the Arts Council. Barry served on the Arts Council Board for over 22 years. Our new Vice President, Frank Cuthbert, has a tough act to follow and we are confident that he will rise to the challenge!
Pro Bono services including printing and production of Arts Alive and all printed materials came to end adding over $32,000 to GCCA’s budget.
Art Works partnership program with the Dept. of Social Services ended in September. The coordinator of this program, Sara Sinclair, was out of a job after almost 10 years and over $8,000 in administration revenues to GCCA was lost.
Experience Works “rotated out” the services of three guardians of our galleries: Mary Dixon, George Kampos, and Norman Mackey. All three were put on staff and also volunteered extra hours when needed.
GCCA has a new look! Thanks to the creative expertise of Gary Bielski, we have a new look! Our logo replaces one created back in 1976 by Enrico Scull of Hudson River Graphics. Enrico has said for years that we needed to modernize and the opportunity came when Board member Frank Cuthbert offered to underwrite a redesign of our web site. Gary Bielski, who is working on the web design and has branded numerous major companies over the years, then donated a substantial part of his services to design a new logo. Here it is:
Cultural Blueprints – a partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts, the Capital Region Empire State Development Office and I LOVE NY. Captain Kay and GCCA were the coordinators for the capital region which included participants from Greene, Columbia, Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Saratoga, Washington and Warren counties who met for a regional planning session for the arts held at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady on Oct 2.
Senator Seward granted $20,000 to replace our worn and outdated carpeting, lighting fixtures, etc. at our building in Catskill. Assemblyman Lopez also granted $1,500 to provide us with a laptop, projector and other presentation material.
GCCA received a Main Street grant through the Heart of Catskill Association and the county for an additional $20,000 – $30,000 for façade and interior renovations.
Wall of History – Another fabulous project celebrating the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial conceived and directed by Hudson Talbott, coordinated by the GCCA, and made possible with a $10,000 grant through the county. The completed Wall of History on the south wall of the Catskill Point Warehouse features “great moments” in Greene County history created by 10 artists.
GCCA’s long dormant Garden Party was reinstated at the Beattie-Powers Place in Catskill.
GCCA’s MountainTop Gallery in Windham closes after 30+ years of operation.
NYSCA funding delays play havoc with cash flow. Operating and regrant funds begin to be delayed well over 6 months into our operating year.
Masters on Main Street (MOMS) headed up by Visual Arts Director, Fawn Potash, and produced in conjunction with the Catskill Art Initiative, created year round storefront exhibitions to bring fresh work from top art schools across the country to Catskill’s vacant store windows. Through his program, our 1st annual festival featuring film and video artists for MFA programs around the country was presented.
GCCA adds administration of NYSCA Decentralization regrants for Schoharie County
“Mainly Greene” was created, complete with website, through a grant of $150,000 from the New York State Council on the Arts through the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) created by Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. “Mainly Greene” is a partnership project of four Greene County arts organizations using the arts as a Main Street business catalyst to promote the region’s great cultural, historic and geographic adventures to residents and visitors. Sponsored by the Greene County Council on the Arts, this unprecedented collaboration brought together Masters on Main Street, Catskill Mountain Foundation, Prattsville Art Workshop & Residency and the Zadock Pratt Museum to promote the arts and culture, events and excursions around Greene County.
Ruth Leonard, Sprouts Director for 18 years, retires after completion of the summer program. Changing of the guard brings in Donna Trunzo and Dale Loughran, long time Sprouts teachers.
“Playing with a Full Deck” fundraiser created by Fawn Potash raised over $24,000 through the creation and sale of playing cards, original art, a poker party and auction. 54 artist designed poker sized playing cards with the back designed by Kiki Smith were presented in a custom box, along with a special edition of 25 poster size prints containing all 54 designs, a deluxe collection with a signed archival limited edition print, T-shirts, and six limited edition engravings by Kiki Smith all contributed to the revenue stream.
Molly Stinchfield takes the reigns of the Visual Arts program in February.
Under the direction of Fawn Potash as part of Masters on Main Street, GCCA presented #CatskillBalloons in April.
NYSCA funding begins to get back on track with funds received in October.
“Mainly Greene” receives another REDC grant for $60,000 for American Masquerade.
GCCA celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a party at the Beattie-Powers Place with over 125 people in attendance. Chili topped the menu and all food and beverage was donated by the business community. Musicians from around the county played all afternoon and scores of volunteers helped make it a very special day. The event featured a juried exhibit of original artwork-all sized 5 x 7 inches-and included a Silent Auction. The 40 Years/40 Artists original artwork was reproduced and boxed as a postcard set with proceeds to benefit the GCCA Visual Arts Program. Ten artists were chosen to exhibit their work in a group show scheduled for January 2016.
Ruth Leonard returns to the Sprouts Program and is joined by Tara Van Roy and Lex Grey as Co-Directors. Sprouts is now in its 30 years.
January-Niva Dorell replaces Molly Stinchfield as the Director of Visual Arts.
February-The GCCA website is redesigned by Niva Dorell, GCCA VAP Director and Community Grants Coordinator Sara Pruiksma-Rizzo.
December-Margaret Uhalde replaces Sara Pruiksma-Rizzo as Community Grants Cooridnator.
Erika Russo takes the position of Sprouts Co-director as Lex Grey pursues time recording and producing Lex Grey & The Urban Pioneers CD’s.
November-Dennis Shaw is hired to replace Renee Nied, who leaves her position to move out of state, as Schoharie Grant Coordinator.