The cost to install artwork at the Peconic Lane Community Center may have dropped considerably, according to Southold Town officials.
At today’s town board work session, Jeff Standish, director of public works, said he’d met with Pat Snyder, executive director of Riverhead’s East End Arts, at the facility on Peconic Lane.
Snyder came before the board in July with an idea to use the Peconic school building for exhibitions and classes.
Standish said he and Snyder took an in-depth look at the building, to discuss lighting, hooks and other issues.
“We came up with a solution,” he said.
Rather than start off in the hallway, as originally proposed, the idea was pitched to just hang five pieces of artwork at the back of the stage.
Not installing the lighting and tracking in the hallways would bring the cost down from $5,900 to $987, Standish said, and if the lights that currently exist near the stage are fine, with no new lighting needed, that cost could drop to $270.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said the parks and recreation department would be formalizing a written agreement with East End Arts. While Riverhead Town has a more “casual” arrangement, Russell said Southold would proceed with a formal agreement.
The supervisor added that there may be a need to add some lighting near the stage. “To get the full effects of paintings, you have to provide a certain kind of ambient light,” he said.
The concept was pitched by East End Arts to the town board in July, with an eye toward using the facility to display artwork and potentially hold classes.
A few questions were raised: Councilman Bob Ghosio said while the parks and recreation department was not necessarily against classes being offered, the feeling was that those classes should be offered through the town’s recreation department, not East End Arts.
Some concerns were also raised by artists who said the space should be open to all Southold Town artists, not just those affiliated with East End Arts, Russell said, adding that based on the “grumblings” he’d heard, some the proposal as pitched was unfair to local artists.
“The community and the parks and recreation department will have to work with East End Arts to bring this to fruition,” he said.
Another issue of concern was liability, Ghosio said. Snyder said EEA carries a certificate of insurance for every space utilized that covers liability, but not theft.
The issue of Southold Town, as a third party, needed to be discussed, Ghosio said.
Standish said he’d love to see life in the building. “I’m all for this. I think the school needs to be noticed. It’s a beautiful building and we need to bring people here.”
Russell said while the board supported the idea, it needed to be thoughtfully vetted and executed, and while the aim had been to get the program up and running by this fall to feature an exhibit this year’s 375th anniversary of Southold, as suggested by Snyder, that wasn’t “realistic,” and not the priority. “We need to take a step back. It’s a great idea but we have to go over the details.”
What’s most important, he said, is working out a long-term plan for the facility and with East End Arts, and while the idea of focusing on the 375th anniversary was a good one, it wasn’t critical.
The aim, Snyder said, is to provide additional gallery space on the North Fork, which is bursting with artistic talent.
“There’s never enough hanging space,” she said.
The auditorium, she said, is suitable for artists’ talks and a reception area.
In order to proceed, hanging systems would need to be installed, Snyder said; the walls are concrete and “not receptive to nails”.
East End Arts, she said, nurtures approximately 475 artists annually and has gallery space in Riverhead’s historic Corwin building, which is owned by the town.
Gallery space is also located at 30 West Main Street in Riverhead and on the second floor of the Jamesport Manor Inn.
Satellite galleries, she said, help provide opportunities to exhibit art around town and also, to launch training programs for artists, as well as others who learn how to curate a show, providing employment, as well.
East End Arts, a 501c3 organization, rents the Riverhead spaces and has a long-term lease, she told Russell.
The supervisor asked if would be possible to create first priority opportunity for Southold artists; Snyder said that could be done.
Snyder said a second opportunity exists in the form of potential programming at the site. “The spaces are beautiful. We’re not taking over the building but we could offer programs on a semi-regular basis.”
Such programs, she said, could include Artists Helping Artists, a program where photographers might come in and shoot the work of artists working in other mediums.
Others might include the JumpstART program, which currently takes place in Riverhead; the program teaches all disciplines the business end of the arts, including marketing, fundraising, public speaking, and writing.
Curatorial training, professional development for arts educators, and workshops for children could also be offered, as could New Horizons, a nationwide program for individuals over 50 to form a band, despite their level of musicianship.
The arts offer human enrichment, Russell said.
Councilwoman Jill Doherty said a good idea would be to get local schools involved; young Mattituck artists recently received nationwide recognition for their art.
Southold’s special projects coordinator Phillip Beltz, who has been working with Snyder on the proposal and has asked that some environmental component be included, said when the town worked on the recreation chapter of the comprehensive plan, “people came out in the dead of winter” to support an increased focus on the arts in Southold.
Councilman Bill Ruland said young and old could come together through art and said preservation of the arts, whether visual or music, “is very important. Something many people won’t understand until they get older. And if they haven’t been properly educated, they won’t.”