Chilling winds didn’t deter some 75 members of the local art community from attending the first public meeting of the East Hampton Arts Council last week at Ashawagh Hall in Springs. The organization, which is co-chaired by Jane Martin and Kate Mueth, aims to serve as a liaison to the Town of East Hampton on issues regarding the performing, literary, and visual arts and to make the arts a more integral part of the community.
After welcoming the guests, Ms. Mueth handed the microphone to East Hampton Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, who credited Cindy Loewen and Ms. Mueth with bringing the idea of an arts council to her and Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc last year. “Arts are a local industry and a part of our local economy,” she said, summing up her talk with quotations from Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, and Charles Segars, C.E.O. of the Ovation arts network, both of whom have stressed the importance of the arts in developing vital communities.
Ms. Martin, a multidisciplinary artist, said that one of her first priorities was affordable working space. “We’re here to gather information from you so we can help you in whatever ways you feel are important,” she said.
She cited three properties that were of potential use as arts venues: Boys Harbor in East Hampton, the James Brooks-Charlotte Park property on Neck Path in Springs, and the Duck Creek/Edwards Farm off Three Mile Harbor Road, also in Springs, which was the site of Sydney Albertini’s Parrish Road Show project last summer.
She explained to the group that commerce is not currently allowed on community preservation fund properties. “We need to go to Albany to convince them to change that,” she said. “Artists need to sell their work.”
Council members, who introduced themselves after Ms. Martin spoke, are Carol Steinberg, an arts lawyer, Beth Meredith, administrator of the annual Springs Invitational exhibition, Loring Bolger, Springs Improvement Society board member, Coleen McGowan, arts coordinator at the Springs School, Janet Jennings, an artist and teacher, Melissa Mapes, an artist, Scott Bluedorn, artist and gallerist, and Ralph Carpentier, artist.
Ms. Mueth, an actress, director, and founder of the Neo-Political Cowgirls dance company, stressed the importance of “showing up.” “We have to encourage the belief that all the arts are vital to our town, and if we can do that, our town will flourish and our children will flourish.”
A question-and-answer session concluded the meeting. Questionnaires were distributed, accompanied by repeated injunctions to those in attendance to provide the council with input and to attend not only future council meetings but also town board meetings in order to make their needs known.