Directors close county arts council

HUDSON—The Board of Directors of the Columbia County Council on the Arts emailed members, supporters and the press on Monday to confirm, “with deep regret,” the closing of Columbia County Council on the Arts.

“For several years CCCA has attempted to operate, despite the loss of state funding and diminished county, city and private funding,” the board said in the email. “Expenses have increased in all areas, and we have been unable to keep pace with the current economy. Gallery sales and member support, though truly appreciated, were not sufficient to stem the tide of rising expenses.

“After the abrupt resignation of the executive director,” the email continued “the handful of remaining volunteer board members attempted to move forward and find solutions to the CCCA’s economic situation. Sadly, the decision had to be made to close the gallery space on Warren Street due to a lack of funds. A closing sale of assets met some of our financial obligations.”

The board thanked supporters of the CCCA’s last fund-raising event, Chatham Meadows, held in the summer of 2016. “The proceeds of this event significantly helped with the existing circumstances,” said the email.

The board also thanked “all who made CCCA a wonderful community for the arts for over 50 years; to the arts council’s volunteers; to the organization’s longtime landlords, Michael O’Hara and Ruth Tamaroff; and “to all those who went out of their way in recent months to offer their services, support and ideas. We will miss you all.”

Will the arts council be missed?

“I don’t know,” Fran Heaney, a Chatham painter and the last president of the CCCA board said Monday.

With the 2015 ArtsWalk, the CCCA celebrated its 50th anniversary. But the local arts scene has grown and changed since 1965. There are galleries in Hillsdale and Chatham, in addition to those in Hudson. A gallery is slated to move into Ancram, and artist workspace is planned in Claverack. Libraries present paintings and photographs by local artists, as well as music and literary programs.

“Maybe not,” said Gail Giles, who is also a painter and lives in Chatham. “Maybe in the end there was too much competition. Maybe Columbia County artists are surrounded by possible venues in all directions.”

Giles, who often shows her paintings in the region, was a CCCA member and is also a member of the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, and the Greene County Council on the Arts. Both of those groups are thriving, she said, in vibrant communities. She expects to become more active now in the GCCA.

“Personally, I’ll miss ArtsWalk, which I think was a great idea,” said Giles, and, she noted, the CCCA had helped the Art School of Columbia County get started. “The CCCA will be missed,” she said, “if not by everyone then by many of us.”

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