“2010 has been an important year of change and transition at the WBG,” noted Matthew Leaycraft of the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, which did indeed did have one tumultous year that saw the retirement of Carla Smith as executive director, and a five week tenure for her replacement, who abruptly quit amid controversy over the Guild’s finances. “The board assumed a leadership role emphasizing financial stability, improved communication, and the identification of a new generation of leadership. In the past four months the staff has been completely reorganized. In less than a year, seven new members have been brought on the board…”
It was a year that began with notice that the Woodstock Playhouse property was in foreclosure, but one that ended with the surprise purchase of the beleaguered institution by a local organization dedicated to refurbishing and revitalizing it.
Randy Conti and Doug Farrell of the New York Conservatory for the Arts (NYCA) addressed a big year beyond their move into the Playhouse.
“For NYCA, of Hurley, the year 2010 was encapsulated in the story of our spring musical at UPAC: Annie,” the two wrote. “Just like the orphan, who more than anything, wanted to know that she belonged, so much of our year followed her dream. NYCA’s Pan American Dance Foundation adopted the Woodstock Playhouse, and commenced diligent work on enclosing and turning it into a viable year-round facility for the Woodstock community. Graduates of the NYCA Performing Arts Education program were adopted by the top music theatre programs in the country, as lead solo singers and dancers for the Disney Entertainment Industry, as a lead actress in Wes Craven’s latest film, as recurring actors in television, and so much more.”
At the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, Executive Director Josephine Bloodgood talked about the hiring of Beacon gallerist Carl Van Brunt as Gallery Director and finally passing revised bylaws for the organization. She expressed pride in the new collective online visual upload WAAM’s involved with the Guild, the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Women’s Studio Workshop, and the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz, as well as in a host of successful exhibitions and the fact that the entity’s annual fundraising auction, “continues at a healthy level in difficult economic climate demonstrating ongoing interest in historic Woodstock art.”
Her board president, Leonard Levitan, who had a great exhibition of his enthusiastic World’s Fair paintings at Oriole 9 this past autumn, noted how, “WAAM has moved to another level in the past year. Both our gallery shows and the Permanent Collection shows in the Towbin Wing have received a lot of attention and accolades. We have had many events dealing with the lectures on the arts, concerts and our education outreach to the schools.”
Ariel Shanberg, Executive Director at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, said “Gosh, we’d probably need an entire issue of the Woodstock Times to cover everything that has taken place at CPW in 2010. Clearly it was one of the busiest years activity-wise CPW has had in a long time.”
Shanberg went on to note how 2010, “was a year in which we deepened our commitments on many fronts — to our local community, to artists, to the depth and impact of our programs — from the bold collaborative endeavors with local organizations including the Woodstock Land Conservancy which celebrated our area’s protected lands while recognizing their inspirational role for artists and alumni of Indie Program which both celebrated the tremendous talent amongst the younger artists in Woodstock while spotlighting one of Woodstock’s most celebrated (at least outside of Woodstock) artists, Gary Hill.”
He further highlighted growth in CPW’s residency program, the inauguration of an annual “Slideluck Potshow” event, and the organization’s recognition by the Lucie Foundation at Lincoln Center this past October.
Writing on behalf of the Woodstock School of Art, new Executive Director Nancy Campbell noted the retirement of longstanding President of the Board Paula Nelson, who had also served as acting director, and both her hiring and Kate McGloughlin becoming the new WSA President.
“Our goals for 2010 were to spread the word about the WSA; to attract young people to our studios; to increase enrollment; to take stock of the condition of our buildings; and in general, to be more visible to our surrounding community. I am happy to say that each of these goals has been met,” Campbell noted. “We received a grant from the Ulster County Legislature/Dutchess Co. Arts Council for enhanced marketing; from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to conduct an existing conditions survey of our buildings; with support from the Community Foundation of Dutchess County we were able to purchase new furniture and bedding for our barn, which students rent by the week during our summer season; we received funding from the Thompson Family Foundation of NYC to provide ten full-year scholarships to area high school students...Both the Woodstock and Saugerties Chambers of Commerce held mixers at the WSA; and our enrollment increased by almost 100 students. And we held our first outdoor sculpture exhibit which was enjoyed by many visitors to the campus during summer and autumn.”
Laurent Retjo of the Hudson Valley Film Commission spoke of a “very busy year” for his organization, which is currently in the midst of fundraising for its first permanent home on Rock City Road alongside its sister organization, the Woodstock Film Festival, and pointed out how, “the economic impact of local film production was enormous and in this time of economic woes, it had a very positive effect on local vendors who provide services to the industry including production crews, actors, caterers, location managers, locations, accounting, transportation, tent rentals, gear, lodging, food, special effects and much more. Regional production revenues should top $15-million.”
In addition to listing the many films shot in the Woodstock area over the past year, including the Jane Fonda-starring Peace, Love & Misunderstanding and White Pines-renting The Art of Love, Rejto referred to the 11th Woodstock Film Festival that wrapped after a five-day schedule of over 150 films, panels, concerts and other events on October 3 with, “record attendance that featured more filmmakers and industry members than any previous year, with participants from all corners of the country and the world including Greenland, Iceland, England, France, Denmark, Canada and Mexico.”
“It takes an enormous amount of time, frugal spending and an incredibly dedicated staff (including over 300 volunteers) to make the annual Woodstock Film Festival possible,” he noted, quoting an earlier missive. “Our heartfelt thanks go out to staff members, volunteers, filmmakers, industry members, advertisers, sponsors and all participants who made this year’s event such a success.”
Amy Raff, the new director at the Woodstock Library, wrote how, “2010 was a busy, productive and extremely exciting year for the Library” At the beginning of the year the Library said goodbye to DJ Stern, esteemed Library Director of 30 years, who retired. Raff, previously the assistant director, was hired as the Director. In June Jessica Kerr was hired as a Librarian I and Linda McAteer was hired as a library clerk. “At the end of August the Library added additional evening hours,” Raff continued. “The Library Board worked very hard to create a modest budget for the Town of Woodstock taxpayers. The budget passed in September and Stuart Auchincloss and Katryna Barber were reelected as trustees. The Library held 33 Library Forums with an average attendance of 40 people, funded by The Friends of the Library. The first annual “Patron Appreciation Day” was held in April. Eleven adult Book Discussions, ten adult Short Story Discussions and a Poets & Writers workshop with Nancy Kline were held. Over 100 programs for children, kids, and teens were held including story hours, book discussions, Manga club, movie nights, Reader’s Theater workshops and performances, drawing class and Summer Reading Program.”
Finally, the busy new Library Director noted how the Library closed for a few extra days in November for a “Library Reconfiguration Project,” also funded by the Friends of the Library, which saw its popular children’s room moved to “a more welcoming part” of the building, an art book room created, and the reading room renewed.
“The accomplishments of 2010 were possible because of the dedication, enthusiasm and brain power of the Library Staff, Board of Trustees, and The Friends of the Library and support of the community,” Raff concluded.
At the Historical Society of Woodstock, Town historian Richard Heppner wrote how the organization, “just concluded a very successful year, including, four major exhibits: The Mountain House: Dreams in the Sky; Folksongs of the Catskills — the Spirit of Camp Woodland; The Woodstock Victory Garden Project, and our Annual Holiday Exhibit and Sale…During the course of these exhibits, a number of presentations were offered including: Walking Woodstock — A Walk through Comeau, with Michael Perkins and Will Nixon; Excerpts from Tobe Carey’s documentary, The Catskill Mountain House and the World Around; Woodstock Night Life with Janine Mower and friends; Lithic Sites of Overlook Mt. and the Catskills with Glenn Kreisberg; Folksongs of the Catskills — the Spirit of Camp Woodland, presentation with folk music by Pat Lamanna and Sue Rosenberg; a presentation by Paul Mishler, author of Raising Reds; and the First Woodstock Christmas Eve Celebration, presentation by Town Historian Heppner himself.++
Next week, a look ahead at 2011 in the arts.