Oct. 16—PLATTSBURGH — Area artists are sculpting a coalition to advocate for and with their fellow creatives.
Newly-formed Plattsburgh Arts Coalition is chaired by Megan Charland and Katherine Teaney, two local businesswomen who established storefronts in downtown Plattsburgh City last year.
Since, the pair said they noticed a growing need of support for community artists and hope the coalition will promote "community over competition," and maybe even reinstate a Plattsburgh-headquartered arts council.
"We have a thriving arts scene, but it's almost like an underground movement at this point," Charland said. "There are other artists and other organizations in Plattsburgh that want the same things, so bringing us together to actually pool our resources, we can do so much more together than apart."
'TAKE BACK CONTROL'
Charland operates Court Street's The Link Arts Center with sister Sara Acors.
When the sister duo entered the scene last year, they hoped to be "The Link" between the community and the arts.
Various artists since stopped by throughout the year to chat and air frustrations over the lack of an arts council here in Plattsburgh.
"It kind of became a common theme," Charland said, noting that Plattsburgh's previous council dissolved in 1998. Without it, state funding is dispersed via Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts in Blue Mountain Lake, more than 100 miles southwest of the City of Plattsburgh.
"Plattsburgh is Plattsburgh," she continued. "Plattsburgh has its own funk; it has its own vibe. We're trying to support that and support the artists who choose to call it home."
Forming an arts council is one of the bigger, more long-term goals of the coalition, something Charland thinks will take at least five or so years.
"We would love to be able to serve our own community right here in Plattsburgh. These folks out in Blue Mountain are doing a great job; we appreciate their support, but it's Blue Mountain Lake, it's not Plattsburgh."
CAN'T DO IT ALONE
This is not a new vision, though.
Charland said many area artists have tried to launch similar initiatives throughout the past two decades.
"But they run out of resources and it fizzles out, or they get exhausted," she said. "So many artists locally are jaded. They say, 'We've tried this before. It wont work.'
"So, The Link can't do this by ourselves. That's where the coalition was formed from."
'BENEFIT OF CONNECTION'
Enter Teaney, coalition co-chair.
Teaney owns and operates OLD SOUL Design Shop, a secondhand and handmade store selling her own creations alongside that of many other area artisans.
When she established her City Hall Place storefront last year, Teaney became dedicated to helping Plattsburgh residents find resources, feel celebrated and share pride in where they live.
Teaney herself upcycles furniture and other neat finds.
This time last year, Teaney's storefront was selling her creations, as well as earrings, mittens, buttons, stickers, knick-knacks, art work and more created by 10 or 15 fellow artisans.
"Now working with over 50 local artisans, I can see clearer the need and benefit of connection and support among these people, as well as many more," she says in a Plattsburgh Art Coalition news release.
"The belief in community over competition will be what makes these foundational strengths stay for artists in Plattsburgh in years to come."
In addition to forming a 501(c)(3) arts council, Plattsburgh Arts Coalition formed in the spring with three main goals:
—Funding: Providing equal access to existing funds and advocating for more funding.
—Support: Developing a fund to offer project support grants and professional development scholarships to local artists.
—Community Development: Promoting the idea of community over competition and fostering collaborations within the arts community.
Charland thought a coalition fund, possibly supported through grants or area business donations, could offer a lot to Plattsburgh's artists.
"The career of an artist is not your stereotypical 9 to 5," she said. "Artists who are either exhibiting or publishing or selling their work — they still need access to health insurance; they still need access to resources. That is where an arts council generally comes in in larger cities."
CALLING ALL ARTISTS
The coalition will hold a public information session Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. in City Hall.
Local artists and staff at local arts organizations are encouraged to attend to provide their feedback, including answering: "What are your hopes, dreams and concerns for the future of the arts in Plattsburgh?"
Charland's answer is to become an art destination.
"When I think of wanting to have a gallery day or go see the arts, I think of driving down to Glens Falls, Saranac Lake or Burlington — those are like the local art hot spots," she said. "We want to be that destination.
"We have so many talented artists here, but we're just not as known for it yet. I want the whole state (and) Vermont to know and want to come check it out."
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