Art for everyone: The beginning of Allegany Arts Association | News

For the last four decades the Allegany Arts Association has been bringing the arts to everyone.

Founded in 1982, the organization, which now has more than 125 paid members, has brought a variety of arts including dance, music, literature, ceramics, painting and drawing, fiber arts and more to the people of Allegany County.

The Allegany Arts Association was founded by a variety of artists who wanted to see the local art scene expanded to serve a wider population. An office space was opened in Belmont and Woody Allen, Celeste Wursig and Ron Lundsberg took the helm. In the early years they organized art shows and events across the county that would entertain and encourage artists in the county’s communities.

A logo was designed by Cuba artist Lisa Robinson to reflect the variety of arts AAA represented.

One of the early members, Barrie Fanton, recalled, “The AAA wanted to make the arts accessible to everyone.”

THROUGHOUT THE YEARS, the AAA has hosted jazz and music festivals, acrobatic performances, circuses, free concerts, literary programs, craft shows, antique shows and sales, art shows, theatrical performances, workshops and talks. Its most enduring program has been its Summer Arts Program for Youth.

The summer program, which is in the planning stages now for this year, served more than 380 students last year at 15 different locations including local libraries, dance centers and at the Fountain Arts Center in Belmont. The programs were conducted by eleven artists who gave kids access to music, dance, art, printing, and other artistic endeavors.

The AAA recently received a grant, which will help it to continue the Summer Arts Program.

While many of the founding members are gone now, through the years the roster has read like a Who’s Who of the Allegany County art world. Among some of the names are, Deloris Cross, Barbara Williams, Berry Lash, Bill and Pat Perry, Linn Phelin, Sharon Yates, Linda Underhill, Mary Richards, Pat Sibley, Joanne Allen and Scott Vonderheide.

IN A FEW WEEKS, the AAA will host its 18th annual Poetry Slam on April 21st at 6 pm at the Wellsville Library. In August it will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a Painted Chair and Table Auction. For more information go to the AAA’s Facebook page or website.

AAA President Sheila Kalkbrenner recently wrote that the organization has received grants that will help it to expand its services to the local art community.

She said, “The Allegany Arts Association is a 501(C)(3) in partnership with local artists working in Allegany County who are in alignment with the AAA’s cultural policy of Belonging and the AAA’s mission to unify creators to expand local access to the arts for the wellness of our community. Beginning in March 2022 the AAA Board of Directors will accept and review for consideration timely 501 (C) (3) partnership proposals from local artists offering projects which provide equitable, nonprofit, creative and cultural services to the Allegany County community.”

She continued, “As a service to our community local art instructors and creators who are current Allegany Arts Association members who have content to share are invited to send videos, tutorials, pictures, links, recordings and other media featuring their local artsy activities to the organization to be shared online in the organization’s E news.”

Funding for the AAA programming comes from the Governor’s office and the New York State legislature regrant program and a grant from Art Services of Western New York and from contributions made by local citizens and organizations.

The AAA meets on the first Wednesday of every month at the David A. Howe Library in Wellsville. All current and past members are welcome to attend.

The meetings can be zoomed by contacting the administrator listed on the web and Facebook page. New members are always welcome, and the AAA encourages poets and to participate in the upcoming programs.


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