History

WELCOME TO ARTSWESTCHESTER!

ArtsWestchesterFor more than 50 years, ArtsWestchester has been the community’s connection to the arts. An organization that began in 1965 as a conversation among arts advocates and volunteers in a living room, has grown into a nationally recognized private arts council, the largest of its kind in New York State.

Over the years, ArtsWestchester has become one of the most important funders in Westchester County for cultural institutions, as well as for emerging arts organizations, community-based arts groups and artists. It is the County’s designated agency, responsible for the distribution of funds allocated for the arts.

ArtsWestchester’s mission is to provide leadership, vision, and support to ensure the availability, accessibility, and diversity of the arts. ArtsWestchester provides programs and services that enrich the lives of everyone in Westchester County. It helps fund concerts, exhibitions and plays through grants; brings artists into schools and community centers; advocates for the arts; and builds audiences through diverse marketing initiatives.

In 1998, ArtsWestchester’s mission came full-circle when it acquired and renovated a nine-story neo-classical bank building at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains, NY. The historic building in the heart of the downtown not only serves as ArtsWestchester’s headquarters, but also as a cultural resource for artists, cultural organizations, and the entire Westchester community.

Today, the arts are thriving in Westchester largely because ArtsWestchester, in partnership with Westchester County Government, has put the arts on the public agenda, investing more than $35 million over the years in arts and culture in the county.

• Learn more about the story of our building
• 50th Anniversary
• Archive
• Organizations We Support
• Programs & Services


THE STORY OF OUR BUILDING

buildingThe People’s National Bank & Trust Building at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue, ArtsWestchester’s current home, is a rare survivor of a past era—one of only a handful of pre-1930 office buildings still standing in White Plains.

At a whopping nine stories tall, the People’s National Bank & Trust Company building awed the people of White Plains when it opened for business on November 25, 1929. As the first ‘skyscraper’ in White Plains it was welcomed with great fanfare in local newspapers. The White Plains Daily Press, for example, lauded the building as “…an accomplishment of building ingenuity, architecture and materials.”

By the late 1990s, when ArtsWestchester entered the picture, the People’s Bank & Trust Company Building – as well as the entire city block between Martine Avenue and Main Street – had been vacant for three years.

Where others saw an abandoned wreck, ArtsWestchester’s Board and CEO saw a future. With renovations, the former bank could provide low-rent studio space enabling a wide range of artists to create and collaborate, house creative businesses and provide a centralized, street level venue to showcase the work of the county’s performing and visual artists.

In 1998 ArtsWestchester purchased it from Chase Manhattan Bank for $1,200,000. In November of 2000, JP Morgan Chase retired the mortgage, in effect donating the building to ArtsWestchester . The rest, as they say, is history.

Download The Story of the Arts Exchange, a brochure about the history & architecture of our building.

See photos of the renovation below:

Building Renovations

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50TH ANNIVERSARY

inside-galleryArtsWestchester celebrated its golden anniversary in 2015. To celebrate its 50th Anniversary, ArtsWestchester implemented several major initiatives to secure its legacy and impact the cultural life of Westchester for the future. They were:

  1. To recognize 50 artists of extraordinary merit through the 50 for 50 Initiative.
  2. To mount ARTSEE, A Festival of New Work in Westchester.
  3. To develop fifty (50) new Arts & Business Partnerships.
  4. To provide more than fifty (50) new Artist Residencies in the neediest schools, demonstrating the role of the arts in teaching STEM subjects.
  5. To secure funding for the Challenge for the Arts, which provides matching grants to cultural organizations.

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