East Hampton Arts Council Has Wins, Losses

Independent/T. E. McMorrow

The East Hampton Arts Council held its monthly meeting December 11 at East Hampton’s town hall.

Co-chairs Janet Jennings and Jane Martin were joined by Teresa Lawler, newest member Rich Mothes, and, remotely, Carol Steinberg. Also at the meeting was East Hampton Town Board member Sylvia Overby, who acts as liaison between the local government and the arts council. The EHAC was founded in 2013. [Editor’s note: The Independent’s Bridget LeRoy also sits on the council, but was not in attendance that night. Also Coco Myers and Scott Bluedorn are on the board.]

The council’s mission is to support and encourage all forms of art, encompassing all media. “Our scope is rather limited,” Jennings said, with Martin adding, “limited and wide at the same time.” The focus is on working artists in East Hampton.

The group has created many different initiatives for artists. One of those is called Creative Networking Nights. Held at the Golden Eagle barn on North Main Street, each night, five or six artists present their work. The event gets a good turnout, Martin said. “It is a chance for an artist to stand up before a crowd,” Jennings added.

“We had the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts come out for a lecture on contracts and copyright,” said Steinberg. “The Arts Council also put together a panel on Artists and Galleries with two art lawyers, two artists, and two dealers on best practices and legal suggestions for artists when dealing with galleries.  It was held live at the Amagansett Library and is still continuously broadcast on LTV,” she added.

Through the Volunteer Lawyers program, Overby added, artists learn “how to conduct their business in a legal way and not get taken.” Artists, Overby pointed out, are no different than other small business owners.

The council can point to signature successes, such as the installment of the Bill King sculpture, “Nureyev & Fontaine,” on the great lawn of the East Hampton town government complex on Pantigo Road. It was donated by Laura Cutler.

Another triumph is the role the EHAC played in helping the Art Barge on the Napeague stretch attain historic status.

But there have been disappointments, too. The pending demolition of the Brooks-Park house on Neck Path in Springs is one. The council had pushed to preserve the structures, but lacked the needed funding until it was too late, and the house and cottages were declared unsalvageable, with the town board approving the demolition. It was suggested by an observer that perhaps next time they are in a similar fight, they will be successful. “There isn’t a next time once it is demolished,” Martin said.

Jennings reported to her fellow council members that she had approached LTV about the possibility of artists renting small studio space there, in which they could display their work. “Unfortunately, we determined that the cost is out of reach for most artists,” she said. “The lack of affordable studio space in East Hampton is a real issue.”

There were other prospective sites the council will look into, such as a back room at the Palm Restaurant that Mothes said might be available.

The next Arts Council meeting will be on January 13 at 5 PM. All are welcome to attend.

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