Working Hard to Ensure the Arts
Story by Linda Marston-Reid, Executive Director, Arts Mid-Hudson
Photos by MDT Photography
For over 50 years, Arts Mid-Hudson has served the Hudson River Valley region. Founded in 1964 as the Dutchess County Arts Council, this organization has seen growth of our service area into Ulster and then Orange County, working to ensure that arts and cultural events are available, as well as funding, arts advocacy and assistance to artists and arts organizations. Arts Mid-Hudson accomplishes this with a small staff, a dedicated board of directors and a team of volunteers.
A few of Arts Mid-Hudson’s annual programs are eagerly anticipated by the community, such as the Dutchess Handmade pop-up shop, held every November and December in the front gallery space. Local artists are invited to submit work, and the space becomes an exciting place to find unique holiday gifts. Savvy buyers return to the shop every year searching for new items to add to their collections of artworks, ceramics, glass and one-of-a-kind holiday cards while supporting the local artists who craft them.
Directly after the holidays, Arts Mid-Hudson celebrates the New Year by partnering with the Mid-Hudson Japanese Community Association to present Kakizome, the traditional custom of first writing of the year. This practice is focused on writing positive thoughts that you wish to put into practice during the coming year, very much like New Year’s resolutions. Participants are guided on how to write their auspicious wish in Japanese calligraphy and have the opportunity to practice the brush strokes. Arts Mid-Hudson’s Folk Arts Program manager works closely with the Mid-Hudson Japanese Community Association and other traditional groups in the Hudson region to ensure such cultural traditions continue to be practiced and shared with the entire community.
Summer festivals are a favorite activity in this region, and Arts Mid-Hudson collaborated with Dutchess Tourism and Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation to launch the Dutchess Dragon Boat Races and Festival three years ago. This festival brings together dragon boat racing on the Hudson River, while on shore the festival area features artist booths, demonstrations, a lineup of live music on stage and local food purveyors. The opening ceremony of the dragon boat races features painting the eyes of the dragon heads and a dance to the river led by the Lion Dance team.
After hearing from local artists that there were few galleries to exhibit their work, in 2014 Arts Mid-Hudson began organizing a series of changing exhibits in their gallery. These have included a wide variety of art, including Komic Kreators of the Mid-Hudson Valley and a Recycle, Reconfigure exhibit, which focused on nontraditional materials that artists use to create artwork.
Key to the work that Arts Mid-Hudson does is our administration of state and local government funding streams, which adds over $100,000 directly back into the local community and ensures that our region has arts opportunities available to all residents. The lively art scene, in turn, increases tourism—which, ultimately, contributes $55 million to the local economy of Dutchess, Ulster and Orange Counties.
Through advocacy, exhibitions, performances, folk arts programs, festivals, awards and more, we bring creative offerings to artists, educators, venues, students and those who enjoy the region’s vast bounty of arts, bridging cultures, inspiring creativity and transform-ing communities.
For more information about Arts Mid-Hudson, visit artsmidhudson.org.