News in Brief

In Memoriam: Richard Dannenberg

Richard Dannenberg, who was a former board member of ArtsWestchester and served as its Treasurer for several years, recently passed away. He is survived by his wife, three children and six grandchildren. A devoted philanthropist, Dannenberg, with his wife Barbara, was an active supporter of many Westchester County organizations, including ArtsWestchester and the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College. When he retired from his career as a lawyer, after more than 50 years at the nationally-recognized Lowey Dannenberg law firm, Dannenberg continued to lend his expertise as a volunteer at Pace Law School and as a federal court mediator. He and his wife were also avid travelers, having visited more than 90 countries.

Copland House Announces Residency Recipients

Copland House has announced twelve composers from eight states as the recipients of its annual Copland House Residency Awards. The awardees, hailing from varied backgrounds and artistic pursuits like concert and acoustic music, were chosen by a composer jury. The award provides an all-expenses-paid stay in Aaron Copland’s historic National Landmark house to create and develop new works. Inspirations for the new works are as varied as the composers – ancient Tibetan court songs, climate change, the intersection of geometry, poetry and music, and more. According to jurist Robert Sirota, President of Manhattan School of Music, the quality of the applicants was noteworthy for the “broad-ranging diversity of their stylistic approaches.”

Taconic Opera’s Program for Young Opera Singers

New York Opera Conservatory (NYOC), a summer program for emerging opera singers has completed its first season. Produced by Taconic Opera, the intensive five-week program aims to position itself as a “trade school” for the opera industry. NYOC provides an affordable way for students to experience resume-building roles, lectures about the opera business, personalized coaching and classes on stage direction. Participants have the opportunity to take part in leading roles from operas and oratorios and present them during performances that are free to the public. This year’s performances included Mozart’s Magic Flute and Cosi fan tutte, as well as six oratorios. Dan Montez, Director at Taconic Opera, plans to offer the program every summer moving forward. For more info, visit

Artwork by Mental Health Recipients in Westchester Exhibited in White Plains

A collection of works by recipients of mental health services in Westchester County will be on display in ArtsWestchester’s gallery from September 7-13. The exhibition, Visions 2018: Wander With Me, is a partnership between Westchester County’s Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH), Rockland Psychiatric Center and ArtsWestchester. For more than 30 years, ArtsWestchester and DCMH have worked together to provide art services and residencies to people with chronic mental illness. According to ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam, “The activities are designed to be outside the therapeutic framework, enabling those who participate to tap their imaginations, express their creativity, develop new skills, and to fully integrate into the community.” Visions 2018 will feature works by more than 60 artists in ArtsWestchester’s downtown White Plains gallery. The “Wander With Me” theme invites visitors to step into the “world” of a mental health recipient and discover that they may have similar aspirations. An opening reception will take place on September 6. For more info, visit:

New York State Education Department to Implement New Arts Learning Standards

Using the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards as a resource, the New York State Education Department has developed new standards for arts learning to be implemented for Pre-K through 12th grade in the coming school year. These new expectations, which update the 1996 New York State Standards, feature “traditional and contemporary approaches for artistic literacy in a digital age.”

The new standards are designed to develop artistically literate citizens who can actively engage in the arts throughout their lives and careers. They are organized around four processes that arts disciplines (visual arts, dance, music, theater and media arts), all employ. These include: Creating (conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work); Performing, Presenting and Producing (realizing, interpreting and presenting artistic ideas and work); Responding (understanding and evaluating how the arts convey meaning); and Connecting (relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context). Each standard is additionally broken down into measurable learning goals that will help to determine a student’s performance.

Leading up to the implementation of the new arts standards was a series of collaborative assessments, in addition to professional development aimed at training teachers to properly equip students with these tools.

City of New Rochelle Unveils Works From New Sculpture Project

The City of New Rochelle’s Municipal Arts Commission has unveiled two 3D pop-art sculptures in its downtown arts district. Together, the seven-foot sculptures, one by Charles Fazzino and one by his daughter Heather, will pay homage to the City’s past and future. Charles Fazzino’s piece looks back at the rich artistic history of New Rochelle, including homegrown characters like Mighty Mouse and Woody Woodpecker, as well as artist Norman Rockwell, who lived in the City. Heather Fazzino’s work brings a modern flare to the downtown area as she reflects on the City through a modern street art technique. The sculptures are part of a project launched by New Rochelle’s Municipal Arts Commission and Department of Development, called Stacked!, which called on fifteen artists to create works that will replace the City’s existing fleur-de-lis statues. The Fazzino sculptures are located at the corner of North Avenue and Huguenot Street. The additional Stacked! sculptures will be unveiled this fall.

Welcoming New Executive Directors

Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art Appoints New Executive Director

Effie Phillips-Staley was recently appointed as the Executive Director at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (HVCCA). Says Livia Straus, the Center’s founding director, who will serve as Board President: “Effie has an outstanding record of driving success in art museums through inclusive education and social justice programs that enrich and empower communities.” Prior to her appointment, Phillips-Staley served as Vice President for Strategic Advancement and Operations with the Hispanic Federation, where she directed strategic planning and fundraising initiatives. She has also worked with institutions including Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and more.

Katonah Museum of Art Appoints New Executive Director

Katonah Museum of Art (KMA) has appointed Michael Gitlitz as its new Executive Director. According to KMA Board President Deborah Mullin, “[Gitlitz’s] experience and vision will support the KMA’s mission to promote the visual arts to our diverse community… He is committed to strengthening ties with our neighbors and with our wider artistic community.” Preceding this role, Gitlitz served as Senior Specialist in Post-War & Contemporary and Modern Art at Paddle8 auction house. He has also served as Director at Marlborough Gallery and of Hirschl & Adler Modern. He succeeds Darsie Alexander, who was recently named Chief Curator of The Jewish Museum.

The Bedford Playhouse Appoints Its First Executive Director

The Bedford Playhouse has appointed the organization’s first Executive Director. Nicole Gardner was chosen from a pool of more than 100 applicants. Her prior position was as Director of Development for the American Theatre Wing, which founded and co-produces the Tony Awards. She has also held positions at Park Avenue Armory and the Center for Arts Education. Board Chair Sarah Long notes that Gardner is joining the Playhouse “at a crucial juncture,” as it is set to newly reopen its doors on September 28-30 after a period of renovation. Gardner says that she plans for her work with Bedford Playhouse to reflect her “passion for bringing communities together and igniting minds through the arts.”

ArtsWestchester Welcomes New Board Members

During the past year, ArtsWestchester elected to its Board of Trustees nine new members from diverse segments of the community. The following members will each serve a three-year term: Helen Yuu-Gates, Interim Executive Director at the Westchester County Bar Association in White Plains, is a marketing and communications specialist and an experienced nonprofit leader. Crista Tucker, Vice President and Wealth Advisor at Wells Fargo Private Bank in White Plains, specializes in financial management for high net-worth clients and their families. Leah Sills, a member of the Sills Family Foundation, is an active board member at Family Services of Westchester, Songcatchers, and the Sousa Mendes Foundation, as well as in her community of New Rochelle. Yaniv Blumenfeld, CEO of Glacier Global, has over 20 years of real estate experience. For 13 years, he was with leading Wall Street firms, where he was responsible for over $16 billion of commercial real estate loans and equity transactions. Marvin Krislov, President of Pace University. Prior to his role at Pace, Krislov served as President of Oberlin College for ten years where he also taught law and public policy. Mark Ettenger, President of the Board of Directors at Emelin Theatre, is an attorney and has recently been involved in real estate investment, management and development. He will serve two years as an affiliate representative. Each representing the Westchester County Board of Legislators, Hon. Catherine Borgia (who represents Ossining, Briarcliff, Croton, and parts of Cortlandt and Peekskill) and Hon. Margaret Cunzio (who represents Mount Pleasant, North Castle, Pleasantville and parts of Briarcliff Manor, Sleepy Hollow and Greenburgh) will serve one-year terms on the Board. As Director of Communications for Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Catherine Cioffi will also serve a one-year term. Prior to joining the County Executive’s team, Cioffi was Director of Public and Community Relations at Mercy College.

ArtsWestchester Accepting Grant Applications

Artists, cultural groups and community organizations are invited to apply for 2019 Arts Alive grants, which help to ensure access to the arts for Westchester and Rockland County residents. These funds are available in three categories: Project Grants support community-based open-to-the-public arts and cultural projects; Artist Grants support the creation and presentation of new works by professional artists that incorporate community engagement; and Arts Education Grants support partnerships between artists or arts organizations with Westchester or Rockland schools to provide students of all ages with rich artistic learning experiences. Arts Alive grants are made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Pre-application workshops are available on September 5 at Clay Art Center (Port Chester) and September 13 at Schoolhouse Theater (North Salem). For more info, visit

Art$WChallenge Matching Grant Doubles Private Donations to Arts Organizations

ArtsWestchester announces its 2018 Art$WChallenge, which helps to raise funds for local arts organizations that received basic program or project support from ArtsWestchester in the past two years. From September 14 through December 14, private donations made to these participating organizations will be matched by ArtsWestchester with support from the Westchester County Government (up to $5,000 each while funds are available). The funds help these organizations to present arts programs that are accessible to residents throughout all of Westchester County. In the past, this has included free performances by Yonkers Philharmonic, workshops for at-risk teens at Pelham Art Center and more. In 2017, participating arts groups raised $543,912 as part of the Art$WChallenge program. This amount was then significantly augmented due to the matching grant, adding value to private donations and providing additional support for programs that ensure access to the arts on a regular basis. For a full list of organizations to donate to, visit

A version of this article first appeared in the September issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at