NORWICH – In its first show of the new year, the Chenango County Council of the Arts is presenting a Valentine to its audience in a time when they could use a little love.
Stig Rossen presents “Brilliantly Broadway! Perfectly Pops!” at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Martin W. Kappel Theater on West Main St. in Norwich. While it’s the first show in the calendar year, the Valentine’s weekend show is actually the fourth in the Arts Council’s 2008-2009 six-show performance series. And it couldn’t come at a better time.
“It’s going to be a tough year for the arts,” said Arts Council Executive Director Victoria Kappel, reflecting on the current state of economic affairs in New York. “We’re lucky here in that we have a very supportive local community, but we don’t know how the state budget cutbacks are going to affect us.”
In addition to local corporate support, individual donations and ticket sales, the Arts Council receives funding from New York State for a number of its ongoing programs. Funding for the New York State Council of the Arts, which in turn grants money to the local council, is already on the chopping block under Gov. David Paterson’s proposed budget. “The distressing thing from my point of view is the disproportionate hit that NYSCA took” compared to other state agencies, Kappel said.
But while the statewide picture looks increasingly grim, Kappel is happy to report that the local arts scene still manages to sparkle. “Over the last year, we’ve actually added to our repertoire,” the director said of her organization’s 2008 accomplishments. One addition takes art to the people – while many have visited the Arts Council’s West Main Street gallery, thousands more were exposed to the works of member artists through a partnership with NBT Bank that started last year. The bank’s “Wall of Art” features a rotating exhibit by various local artists. “We’ve had two artists exhibit at Wachovia as well,” Kappel said. The walk-in traffic at both financial institutions has led to a much greater exposure for local artists, which the director says is a large part of the Arts Council’s mission.
“A primary focus of our mission is to expose as many people to the arts as possible,” Kappel said, “and not just in exhibits, but in performances as well.” To that end, the Arts Council is the conduit and largest distributor of grant monies for rural arts organizations in the area, handling the state’s Decentralization Grant program for both Chenango and Broome counties. In a ceremony to be held in March, the Arts Council will distribute $55,000 in cultural funding to 38 non-profit organizations in the area...