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The Arts Are Making a Comeback

Performance in the Venetian Theater at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (photo credit: Gabe Palaci

Slowly but surely, arts groups of all disciplines have begun to reopen as New York State expands guidelines for cultural groups in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. ArtsNews asked local arts organizations for more information about their reopening plans, whether this month or in the future, as they work to welcome back the public. Below are their responses. 

Bedford Playhouse
Courtney Davis Walker, Director, Marketing & Communications

Bedford Playhouse reopened to the public on May 28, leading up to a highly anticipated season of summer blockbusters. Based on guidance from public health experts and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO)’s Cinema Safe guidelines, the Playhouse is putting enhanced health and safety measures into action. Executive Director Michael Hoagland adds: “We are incredibly grateful for the support our community has shown over the last very difficult year, and we are looking forward to welcoming guests back home to the Playhouse.”

Bullseye Resource Center New York
Rachel Deliz, Manager

Bullseye Glass Resource Center in Mamaroneck welcomes guests back to its store, studio and gallery to join the Center for classes, attend an Open Studio session or buy glass art. The Center offere new ways to learn glass-making skills that combine online instruction with hands-on making. Anyone can drop by to see the new gallery space for inspiration or glass gifts. The Center is open Tuesday through Saturday.

Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
Christina Horzepa, Grants Manager

Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts is thrilled to present a full summer season of 35 live and in-person performances this year. The events, all held outdoors, encompass a range of genres and include the return of the annual Jazz Festival; American Roots Music Festival; July 4 Pops & Patriots concert; a celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s music; and much more. Performances range from large ensembles (Orchestra of St. Luke’s, The Knights, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra) to soloists (guitarist JIJI and pianists Richard Goode and Conrad Tao). A collection of sound art is also on display.

The Center for the Digital Arts, Peekskill at Westchester Community College
Dr. Sherry Mayo, Director

The Center for Digital Arts, Peekskill Extension of Westchester Community College will reopen this fall. The Center offers digital media certificates as well as courses in studio arts and media classes for youth. On view this fall will be Sketches of Spain: Robeson 1938, which features original sketches by various artists depicting Paul Robeson throughout his life as a scholar, athlete, actor, singer and human rights activist; Grass + Roots: Peekskill to Poughkeepsie, a juried show and partnership between the Putnam Arts Center and the Center for the Digital Arts Gallery, curated by Patricia Miranda; and the pop-up show, Celebration!, curated by the Peekskill Arts Alliance. 

Clay Art Center
Nancy Yates, Communications Manager

Clay Art Center is currently offering in-person clay classes with reduced class sizes. It will be increasing capacity for its summer term classes beginning June 28. In-person visits are now available for gallery exhibitions by appointment and will be holding Spring Fest pottery sale, which includes fun clay activities for the whole family, outside on June 5. In-person summer camp is being offered July 6 – September 3 for ages 6-15.

Croton Academy of Arts
Myrlin Valerio, Director 

Croton Academy of Arts (CAA) will be fully opening its doors this summer with a dozen new camp programs in performing and fine arts and crafts for campers of all school ages. In the fall, CAA will return to holding its after school performing arts program, all theatrical classes, and plays for children and adults at its renovated studio, which now features new flooring, seating and H-13 HEPA filtered air purifiers. In-person after school classes at the Croton-Harmon school district in arts enrichment will also return.

Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden
Elizabeth Hammer Munemura, Executive Director

The Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden in North Salem recently reopened to the public.  Open hours are Wednesday-Saturday at 12-4pm.  A group exhibition, Voices: I Remember, opens on June 5.  While there will not be classes in our basement this year, a varied program of events and programs, online and live, are planned.

Hoff-Barthelson Music School
Patrick Cacciola, Director of Marketing and Communications

Hoff-Barthelson Music School has gradually opened for in-person private lessons and certain ensemble classes. This summer, the School offers an in-person, socially distanced Summer Arts Program for students entering grades 1-12 in two two-week sessions. Additionally, in-person private instruction will be expanded to include wind players and voice. This fall, the School will resume all programming in-person with health and safety protocols in place. 

Hudson River Museum
Samantha Hoover, Deputy Director for Advancement, Communications, and Administration

The Hudson River Museum (HRM) plans to reopen its Planetarium on July 16 in a reduced capacity, strictly following New York State and CDC guidelines. In addition, a full season of our Summer Amphitheater Series returns with free performances every Friday and Saturday evenings from July 9-August 20 and free Summer Evening Hours from July 16-August 28 (5-7pm, with free planetarium shows on Fridays at 6pm). Four exhibitions will open this summer: Wall Power! Spectacular Quilts from the American Folk Art Museum and Collection Spotlight: Storied Quilts from the Hudson River Museum both open June 18; Richard Haas: Circles in Space opens June 25; Jack Stuppin: The Beginning of My World opens July 2.

Hudson Valley Writers Center
Jessie Wright, Managing Director

Hudson Valley Writers Center is currently assessing its building systems and technological needs to welcome writers and readers safely back to our home at the historic Philipse Manor train station. We envision a future where we are able to provide inspiring literary programming for both in-person and virtual community members and continued engagement with groundbreaking writers from around the country and the world. In the meantime, we have an exciting summer and fall planned with a full slate of readings, writing workshops and community events, all offered virtually.

Irvington Theater
Greg Allen, Theater Manager

For the first time ever, Irvington Theater is having a summer season by taking it outdoors. We will be offering a three-film series (one each month from June to August), a co-produced play in July with River’s Edge Theatre, and three weekends of free Shakespeare in August with the Irvington Shakespeare Company. While our season usually starts in September, we are waiting due to lack of proper ventilation in our historic theater. We are working to remedy that with an opening date announcement to come later.

Jacob Burns Film Center
Denise Treco, Director of Marketing and Communications

Jacob Burns Film Center is thrilled to welcome the community back to its Theater to once again experience the magic of watching a movie together. The Center kicked off our 20th anniversary year with independent first-run, documentary,and retrospective films as well as original curated series. In July, we’ll see the return of our popular “Sounds of Summer” music series, highlighting some of the best films screened in past years. 

Katonah Classic Stage
Trent Dawson, Founding Artistic Director

Katonah Classic Stage recently had its first live, in-person events: three benefit performances of Thom Pain (based on nothing) at Bedford Playhouse. The show was well-attended and proved that audiences are hungry for live theater to return. Our next event is a film festival on August 7, held outdoors, picnic-style on the lawn next to the Playhouse. Our official opening of our inaugural show, Private Lives, takes place September 16. We are still working on the ideal outdoor location for the show.

Mamaroneck Artists Guild
Mitchell Visoky, Co-President

Mamaroneck Artists Guild vacated its physical gallery space in September 2020. We have since operated online with exhibits, programs and receptions. We plan to reestablish a physical space by September 2021 with on-site exhibits that will be open to the public. We will continue a hybrid of programs both in-person and virtual. New members are welcomed by contacting [email protected].  We are building close links with the local communities by collaborating on pop-up shows with other venues in Westchester, participating in local art initiatives like Arts on the Avenues in Larchmont, and developing new programs in partnership with other cultural organizations.   

Music at Asbury
Mary Thombs, Chair

Music at Asbury will return to live performances on June 13 at 4 pm with an outdoor program, A Tribute to Jerome Kern. Asbury Church has an outdoor chapel area adjacent to its parking lot, which will serve as the stage with audience members seated in socially-distanced “pods.” Attendance is free but by reservation only. To keep artists safe, we will only use three singers, one narrator and one pianist. We will be recording and editing for streaming on our website.

The Neuberger Museum of Art
Tracy Fitzpatrick, Director

The Neuberger Museum of Art recently reopened its doors to members and the general public.  Hours through July 9 are 12-5pm Wednesday-Friday; beginning July 14, the museum will be open Wednesday-Sunday. Admission is currently free for all visitors. Exhibitions on view feature objects from the museum’s 6,000+ piece collection of modern, contemporary and African art. A brief Visitor Screening must be completed prior to each visit.

New Castle Historical Society/Horace Greeley House Museum
Jennifer Plick, Executive Director

The New Castle Historical Society/Horace Greeley House Museum in Chappaqua has been open with reduced capacity since July 2020, when New York State allowed arts and education organizations to re-open for limited visitation. In another change to our normal operations, we decided to forgo traditional guided tours, and implemented self-guided tours. Visitors can now tour the historic Horace Greeley House by using a brochure and our app-based audio guide. Looking ahead, we eagerly anticipate being able to welcome more visitors to the Greeley House this summer and returning to some in-person programming.

New Rochelle Council on the Arts
Theresa Kump Leghorn, President

After seeing the 2020 season canceled, the New Rochelle Council on the Arts (NRCA) is excited to be working on some exciting summer programming. The free Summer Sounds Concert Series will return to the Hudson Park bandshell for four Wednesdays in August. In addition, NRCA is partnering with Twining Development to present four additional concerts on Sunday afternoons at The Armory. NRCA and Twining will also present Lawn Chair Theatre Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Queen at The Armory on July 25 and ArtsFest, which will return October 15-17.

The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College
Mara Rupners, Director of Marketing

At Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, we are setting our sights on the future and laying out plans for the summer, fall and beyond. This summer, we will turn our attention to internal matters and will kick off several maintenance projects. Come fall, a greater variety of virtual programming will be available for audiences of all ages, along with a continued focus on the creation of new work. Our theaters and lobby will serve as safe learning and performance spaces for our students throughout the academic year. We hope to finally see a return to limited live programming in early 2022 and anticipate the curtain rising on an in-person 2022-23 season. 

PJS Jazz Society
John Brathwaite, President

PJS Jazz Society is excited to resume its Second Sunday this fall beginning with a September 12 return to live concerts. We anticipate that clearance for live concerts in our performance space will be confirmed during the summer, enabling us to prepare another amazing jazz concert series. If it turns out that live concerts are not possible, we will continue with virtual concerts.  

The Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Elly Weisenberg Kelly, Manager of Public Programs

The Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has offered a number of virtual lectures, tours and performances since we had to close our doors in March 2020. We are thrilled to announce that our 2021 summer performance series will be presented in person and outdoors for small audiences. As our way of saying thank you to the incredible Westchester community, we are offering tickets to first responders, frontline workers and other community groups. Performances include Dance Lab New York on June 9, jazz saxophonist Melissa Aldana Quartet on July 13, “Unspoken Tales” on August 3 and A Palo Seco Flamenco on September 13.

Smart Arts at Westchester Community College
Paula Rubenstein, Director of Smart Arts Performance Academy

In fall 2021, the Office of Cultural Affairs at Westchester Community College will continue to present “Smart Arts Virtual: The Sage Stage,” which features two videos per month from September through December to a limited audience. In the Winter/Spring 2022, there are plans to open the campus theater with “live” in-person performances from January through May 2022, featuring one performance per month. Plans to reopen the theater in the Hankin Academic Arts Building are subject to both SUNY guidelines and Westchester Community College’s campus guidelines and policies; both still pending.

Steffi Nossen Dance Foundation
Judy Ross, Community Relations Director

Steffi Nossen School of Dance is looking forward to dancing in the studio beginning June 28, getting our studios ready for summer camps and intensives for preschoolers to pre-professional dancers, and giving students a diverse dance experience while enhancing their technical and artistic growth. We will offer one- to three-week camps and intensives in creative movement, ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop, musical theater and composition, as well as early-evening drop-in Zoom classes in modern, jazz, and conditioning for adults and teens.  Health and safety guidelines will be strictly observed. This is a great opportunity to build communication skills and self-assurance while exploring creativity in a small intimate group setting.

Village Squares Quilters
Sheryl Fleishaker of Village Squares Quilters

Village Squares Quilters are looking forward to reopening their meetings this coming September.  The guild meets in Scarsdale at the Westchester Reform Congregation on the second Tuesday of the month.  Anyone interested in joining a welcoming group of people who would love to meet fellow interested quilters can email [email protected]

Westchester Children’s Museum
Katherine Berthod, Office Manager

After a year of patiently anticipating a responsible time to reopen, we are happy to announce that Westchester Children’s Museum will be reopening on June 26, with a special members-only soft opening on June 19.  The Museum is CDC-compliant and has made changes to keep guests and staff safe and healthy. While not required, guests may purchase tickets in advance to expedite the check-in process.

The Westchester Chorale
Frances Snedeker, President

The Westchester Chorale is delighted to announce that our voices will once again be heard in southern Westchester. On December 11, our concert, “Voices of Jubilation,” will ring from the rafters of Larchmont Avenue Church. Under the skilled direction of Douglas Kostner, we are already rehearsing Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo, a musical message of celebration, as well as Kostner’s newest choral composition, which proclaims our joy to be singing together again. These two exquisite pieces, along with the accompaniment of the Westchester Children’s Chorus, will make the holiday season even more special. Contact:  [email protected].

The Westchester Chordsmen
Stephen Banker, President

Since group singing has been one of the more hazardous activities for spreading COVID-19, The Westchester Chordsmen have been particularly careful, limiting our activities to virtual only. Only two weeks ago we approved outdoor rehearsals for fully vaccinated members (a large majority of us). With the latest CDC guidance, we hope to resume weekly, in-person indoor rehearsals soon. We are already planning for our live annual Youth Festival to be held in November and our Holiday Show in December, and look forward to in-person “Singing Valentines,” free singing lessons, a spring show and a competition in the first half of 2022.

Westchester Symphonic Winds
Curt Ebersole, Conductor/Music Director

Westchester Symphonic Winds started in person rehearsals in April with 6-12 vaccinated, masked, distanced players at a time, using bell covers at Tarrytown Music Hall (TMH). Rehearsals are continuing in an outdoor tent throughout May and June, with masks, bell covers, and distancing. We will perform at Caramoor on July 4 with an ensemble made up of vaccinated players. We will reassess the New York State protocols in September before reconvening full ensemble indoor rehearsals. We aim to restart public performances as scheduled on November 14 at TMH, following State audience protocols, and hope to livestream the performance as well.

White Plains Performing Arts Center
Kathleen Davisson, General Manager

White Plains Performing Arts Center will reopen with live in-person concerts beginning in July. A full 2021-22 Season will be announced in early June, including a subscription series of Mainstage musical productions, concerts and special events. Also beginning in July is the 17th season of Summer Theatre Academy, our summer theatre camp for students ages 7-17.  Our facility has been thoroughly cleaned and has installed a state-of-the-art HVAC system. We have hand sanitizer stations in place throughout the lobby and plexiglass barriers in areas of high person-to-person contact.  We look forward to welcoming our loyal audience back with open arms to our new COVID safe environment.

Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra
Victoria Jimpson-Fludd, President of the Board of Directors 

Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra (YPO) returns to the concert stage, in phases, from July to October. All concerts are aired at [email protected]. In Mid-July, YPO celebrates its return to the concert stage – without a live audience when YPO’s brass ensemble performs in the Hudson River Museum’s amphitheater.  On August 20, YPO closes out the Hudson River Museum’s summer outdoor, live audience concert series. YPO’s string ensemble performs American music celebrating “Wall Power,” an exhibition of quilts from the American Folk Art Museum. The concert will air in September. In Mid-October, with COVID conditions permitting, YPO performs its first indoor, on-stage, live audience concert of its new 2021/2022 season.

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

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