LCA honored for decades of service, dedication to community
By Jennifer Pauly
Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce has announced the Lewiston Council on the Arts as its 2015 River Region Partnership Award recipient. This award was created in 2013 by the chamber staff. It recognizes a business or organization that supports the chamber's mission of business development, improving quality of life and preserving the history and culture of the region, while actively participating in chamber initiatives.
The Lewiston Council on the Arts has been an important part of the community since the mid-1960s. The main goal of the organization was hosting art in the community through the annual Lewiston Art Festival.
Looking to get involved, Irene Rykaszewski, now executive director, and Eva Nicklas, current artistic director, came onboard in the late 1980s. They first collected donations for the festival as volunteers, and then started creating programs and additional events in 1994.
With the arts as their passion, their vision would grow and they would transform the LCA into the leading arts organization it is today.
Two part-time employees round out the LCA staff: program coordinator Tim Henderson and outreach coordinator Kathryn Serianni. The LCA office is located in the heart of the village, directly behind the Bicentennial Peace Garden on Ridge Street.
The LCA calendar has grown into a full year of diverse arts and entertainment events and programing - from smaller, intimate events such as "Toast and Jam" and the Lewiston Arts Café, to large-scale concerts such as the "Summer of '69" and the Lewiston Art Festival. The staff works hard to add new aspects to the programs.
The LCA looks for cultural experiences that haven't yet been met to develop new endeavors. New for 2015 is a Shakespeare program at Hennepin Park this summer.
The audience for LCA programs ranges from local community members to those who come from all over Western New York for events such as the Art Festival and Marble Orchard Ghost Walks. Vendors for the Art Festival come from all over the U.S. to be a part of one of the longest-running art festivals.
All of the LCA's events and programs are included in a brochure that is printed each year, highlighting the year's activities. The brochure is designed in house by Serianni and distributed all over Western New York.
Former board member Chuck Scrufari was a pioneer in securing the www.artcouncil.org website domain years ago, leading other arts organizations to follow suit and integrate the arts into technology. Local media is utilized to further market events and programs.
Fundraising is an ongoing effort for the Arts Council. The community, recognizing the value of the LCA's efforts, is ready to give back. Moreover, both the Town and Village of Lewiston have been supportive of the LCA's initiatives.
"The Lewiston Council on the Arts is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the area by nurturing a thriving environment for the arts and for cultural activities, promoting economic opportunities for artists, encouraging public participation in the arts, and actively advocating for the arts," its mission statement reads. This purpose helps bring creative talent and public appreciation together, creating an artistic identity for Lewiston.
The 12-member LCA board of directors volunteers time and effort to make sure goals are met. The group also has an advisory board that lends ideas and guidance.
As an active member of the Cultural Alliance and Art Services Initiative, the LCA works to keep the arts a focus in New York.
Lewiston is fortunate to have an active arts organization that supports working with other organizations and businesses. Partnerships have been forged with the Modern Corporation, the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston, The Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Just Literary Center and the Chamber of Commerce - just to name a few - to bring the arts to Lewiston and beyond. We are fortunate to live in a community that values art, history, culture and the LCA's work.
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce proudly congratulates the Lewiston Council on the Arts for its long-standing service and dedication to the community.