Both aspiring and seasoned artists have several chances to debut their work coming up, thanks to the Cattaragus County Arts Council. The closest event coming up is the “Routes to Art,” an open studio tour featuring more than 45 artists from the area. This year’s “Routes to Art” takes place Saturday, May 19th and Sunday May 20th from 10 am to 5 pm. During these two days, artists will open their doors across the Cattaragus region and Seneca Nation of Indians for viewers to enjoy and appreciate. A few artists from Pennsylvania will also be featured.
Anne Conroy-Baiter, Executive Director for the Arts Council, said that the Arts Council, going strong in its 13th year, has a main focus of increasing quality of life in the region through art. Conroy-Baiter said she absolutely loves her job, and is an artist herself who specializes in watercolor and gouache art, and has a background in graphic design, event planning and fundraising. Conroy-Baiter said that one of the purposes of the “Routes to Art” event is to use cultural tourism as a means for economic advancement. Tourists from Toronto, Buffalo and even Pittsburgh come through the Cattaragus area to see the exhibits put on by local artists. Conroy-Baiter said that exhibit, in its 5th year, can expect a ton of new visitors, as well as the repeat visitors from previous years.
Other events coming up are the “Cause for Celebration” raffle on July 14th, one of the Art Council’s most successful events. In this event, tickets are sold for $100 which put participants in for a chance to win 6 different raffle baskets, full of art donated by local artists. The artwork featured in the fundraiser has a value of more than $9,000. The money raised by the fundraiser will help to fund workshops, kids programming, “Routes to Art,” community improvements, contemporary exhibitions and the improvement of quality of life in the Southern Tier region. Also, each ticket purchased will admit two people to the Cause for Celebration Drawing Party from 6-8 pm on the 14th at the location of the Arts Council at 100 West Main in Allegany. The dinner will feature happy hour drinks and appetizers in addition to the raffle drawing for the artwork featured.
In addition to these two events, Conroy-Baiter also said that the Council features programming for kids, including the “Like a Master” program, in which children will study a particular artist, then have the opportunity to create their own piece based on what they learned about the artist of focus. “We want to provide an opportunity for kids to have early exposure to the arts to help raise awareness of their creativity,” she said. “That’s what these programs are designed to do.”
There will also be art classes available in the future for children and adults interested in art in Ellicottville, taught at the Ellicottville library. Conroy-Baiter said that overall, in addition to improving quality of life in the region through art, another mission of the Art Council is to help teach artists to be more business minded. Through a program called ABLE (Arts Business Learning Exchange), local artists are taught business skills to help them promote their art in the future. “The more business-minded artists are, the better they’ll be at marketing and bringing money back into the region,” Conroy-Baiter said. “The more artists we bring into the fold, the more art we have available for the area.”
Overall, Conroy-Baiter said that art is important because it explores a basic human need: creativity. “Recognizing creativity as a basic human need is essential,” she said. “So many people believe they aren’t creative just because they aren’t a fine artist, which is not the case. Anyone who gardens, cooks, or even crafts is creative. Arts and culture adds something to society that is irreplaceable. It adds balance to the region, and to people’s everyday lives as well. We have to keep it around.”
For more information on the Cattaragus County Arts Council and its upcoming events, visit their website at www.myartscouncil.net, or call the office at 716-372-7455.