- Arts Mid-Hudson staff on a Zoom meeting
From the painters of the Hudson River School through the Byrdcliffe and Maverick arts colonies, the Woodstock Festival, and today’s celebrated local cultural scene, the arts have long been an essential element of the Hudson Valley’s identity, enriching the lives of residents and visitors while fueling the region’s economy. Now in its 56th year, Arts Mid-Hudson has been working unwaveringly to continue its charter mission: “To provide vision and leadership to support thriving and diverse arts in the Mid-Hudson Valley.” That mission, along with all of the great work the group does in pursuit of it, has led Chronogram readers to choose Arts Mid-Hudson as 2020’s winner in the Arts Organization category.
“Over the decades, we’ve morphed to serve the community in ways that are consistent with its needs,” says Linda Marston-Reid, executive director of the organization, which serves Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange counties by helping smaller arts groups and artists obtain grants for projects, partnering with outside arts organizations, and generally promoting the arts around the region. “Besides helping to secure and distribute grants, we offer technical assistance to groups putting on community-building arts events [the Jazz in the Valley and Hudson Valley Brassroots music festivals and La Guelaguetza Oaxacan culture festival are examples] and cosponsor arts classes at community centers and libraries. It’s especially wonderful to be able to help bring the arts to more isolated towns, places that otherwise might not have any arts activities at all.”
Unsurprisingly, finding funding for arts incentives under the present administration is a difficult proposition—which perhaps makes Arts Mid-Hudson’s efforts more crucial than ever before. “We have a challenging year in front of us, and we’re expecting cuts at both the state and local levels,” the director admits. “But the New York State Council on the Arts has been vital in working with us, and we’ll be disbursing a new round of grants from them next month.”
Responding to COVID, the association has shifted its inner communications online and concentrated its energy on reaching out to area volunteer arts groups and providing artists with the networking they need through Zoom meetings.
“There’s always room for more work,” says Marston-Reid.