NARROWSBURG, NY — As a faithful supporter of the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA), I’m looking forward to celebrating the 35th Anniversary Gala with like-minded folks on Sunday, October 9 (see sidebar). Sifting through the mounds of articles already written about the organization since it’s inception in 1976, I searched for information not readily available. While the anniversary offers an opportunity to reflect on the past and honor those who have contributed, it is the future that piqued my interest, and with that in mind I arranged a conversation with executive director Elaine Giguere, gallery director Michael (Rocky) Pinciotti and communications director Tina Spangler.
The talk was illuminating, educational and stimulating—adjectives I usually reserve for describing events at the place which is indeed, an art gallery, but on closer inspection, so much more. It also revealed that, for all three, the there is an intimate connection between the future and the past. All three expressed the identical vision: stay the course.
“We have a history of tremendous artistic success,” Pinciotti told me, “and have no plans to deviate from the path. What we present here is done adhering to very high standards, and with continued support from the communities, patrons and volunteers, we plan to be here for many years to come.”
While funding for the arts has suffered in recent years, one would be hard pressed to notice any slacking off at the DVAA, as everyone involved works diligently to overcome those obstacles without allowing them to affect the programs, much less the future of the organization. “It (the economic slump) will bottom out at some point, and we have by no means lost hope,” Giguere said. “Supporting the arts takes a big commitment, and we are prepared to deal with the present, while continuing to move into the future.”
What does suffer from the lack of financial support, is the small staff’s ability to foster as much new artistic expression as they would like. Missing a full-time employee (other than Giguerre) for over two years, those holding down the fort find that the day-to-day duties required to “simply keep the place running” often affect how much can be achieved. “We’d like to give as much attention as possible to the various disciplines that we encourage,” Giguere said, “but budget cuts stand in our way of accomplishing all of our goals in a timely manner.”
“Unlike many arts organizations, we have a very active board of directors,” Pinciotti said. “We are extremely fortunate to have a core group of selfless volunteers who give so much of their time and energy.” Spangler concurred. “Without community support, we would be adrift,” she said. “I’m so grateful to have a wonderful job and be a part of this great organization, which continues to grow and thrive, in the face of adversity—and gives all creative individuals a home to call their own.”
“Everything we do here is driven by the artists themselves,” Giguere said, “not only those who have shown here in the past, but also those who have yet to discover all that we have to offer.” Those who are already familiar know that the historic building (the former Arlington Hotel) on Main Street in Narrowsburg, NY houses two art galleries, a performance space and meeting hall, but I was surprised to learn that there is more unused space begging to be developed. Two yet-to-be-renovated floors still await, and the new porch has just been completed. While having more full-time staff would “help make everything more doable,” Giguere and co. are forging ahead. “Presenting artists, of every genre, is what we do,” she said. “The work is not for us to judge, and what interests one individual or another is highly subjective.”
Pinciotti agreed and said that “our main focus is the artists. We have a great facility and want everyone to know it is for them to use. No one is excluded; the DVAA is here for artistic expression of all kinds.” Art, writing, poetry and theatre are but a few of the many forms that creativity takes and there is room for “all that and so much more” as the DVAA looks to the future while gratefully acknowledging the past.
With strong support and affiliation with the Delaware Valley Opera, the Callicoon Theatre, Dancing Cat Saloon, The River Gallery and scores of friends in the Upper Delaware Valley, the DVAA shows no signs of slowing down. “It takes a strong commitment to deal with the present while continuing to build our future,” Pinciotti said, “but we—the staff, the community and those who have yet to discover us, are up to the challenge.” Spangler nodded in agreement. “We want everyone to feel welcome, always. We’d like to think that folks know we’re here, but our goal is to continue making them aware of not only what goes on here at the DVAA, but what the future holds.”