Being Western New Yorkers, it is easy to say that we simply live in art. The undulating hills, magnificent autumn leaves, and picturesque ponds are enough to make John James Audubon return for a last hurrah. Upon the dawn of the new millennium, however, there still seemed to be something missing from the local art community. Neighboring creators had nowhere to display their works, no place to meet and discuss their passions. This all changed in 1998 after the founding of the Cattaraugus County Arts Council. Filling a much-needed gap, the organization resided for 13 years at the Allegany High School. In 2011, the Arts Council moved to a larger location at 100 West Main Street in Allegany. They launched a new retail space for artists to sell their work and expanded their available art and pottery studios.
Over the years, the Arts Council grew to include not only Cattaraugus County, but Allegany and Chautauqua Counties as well. With these additions, the Arts Council officially changed its name to the “Tri-County Arts Council” to better reflect the communities they serve. Now catering to over 3800 square miles, it is no wonder that, in 2018, the Arts Council found that they had outgrown their current home. After months of searching and grant-writing, the Council is proud to announce their monumental move to 110 West State Street in Olean, New York!
Despite the many changes of address, the goal of the Arts Council has always stayed the same. From offering studio spaces to hosting workshops for all ages and skill-levels, the Council is committed to fostering creativity in our community. They strive to be the chief sponsor of diverse activities and programs that promote the arts and expand their accessibility in the area. As stated boldly on their website, the Council is “transforming the quality of life in our region through education, service and community outreach.” To put it marvelously simply, they believe in the arts.
There is no better example of a believer than Tina Hastings, the Council’s current executive director. “I am passionate about the Tri-County Arts Council because I believe that art is an important part of our lives,” she says. “People find creative expression in making art. A recent article I read even suggested that you don't even have to be good at it. The process of just being creative can be transformative. Viewing art can invoke many different feelings and it's amazing to see how different styles, mediums, and subjects can influence the viewer in ways the artist may not have even considered. Art exposes us to differing viewpoints. It can help our children develop critical thinking skills they can apply in other areas of their lives. We need art in our world and our local communities. In many ways, this is what the Tri-County Arts Council does and I'm happy to be part of it.”
“I invite everyone to become involved with our organization,” Hastings continues, “because a thriving arts association is wonderful to have in any city or town. I believe that what we offer helps to enhance the communities that we serve, and we want to make art available to everyone who wants to be involved.”
Ultimately, it is the community that helps small arts organizations thrive and boosts their ability to offer quality, affordable programs. “It is in the difficult times that art finds its most vital role,” the website explains, “the role of improving quality of life.” The Tri-County Arts Council invites you to become a member of something more - more than just paint supplies, kilns, and occasional exhibitions. This is an organization passionate about happiness and committed to change for the better.
The Tri-County Arts Council will host a Members Exhibition at their new location on Friday, July 19 from 6-8pm. All members are invited to submit one work to be included in the exhibition. The event is free and open to the public. It is the perfect way to get a taste of what artists in the area are creating. The Council is also celebrating Art in the Park in conjunction with Taste of Olean coming up on Sunday, July 28. The event is held at the War Veterans Park in Olean. To top it off, the Council will be hosting the Southern Tier Biennial, a contemporary art exhibition, on Saturday, September 21 in two locations: the Tri-County Arts Council and the JCC Center Gallery in Olean. Check out www.myartscouncil.net for more information on events and workshops near you.