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Citing shrinking interest, Allegany Arts Association could disband

By KATHRYN ROSS

WELLSVILLE — After 40 years the Allegany Arts Association may be disbanding.

The year 1982 was far different than the world we know today, and because of that, members of the association’s board of directors and officers are questioning whether the need for the organization still exists. So strong is their doubt that they are urging existing members and supporters to come to the annual meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 7 at the David A. Howe Library, to voice their opinions. The annual meeting is when officers and board members are elected.

Part of the AAA’s problem is that there are not enough members willing to take the responsibility of holding an office or joining the board. For example, for the last several years no one has filled the office of vice president, current president Sheila Kalkbrenner said.

Meanwhile, she has handed in her resignation.

In the AAA’s most recent newsletter, she stated, “As I have already served as editor, secretary, vice president and president, though I will continue my work to expand local equitable access to the arts, I will not be serving another term as an AAA officer in 2023.”

Forty years ago, a group of people saw the need to expand the arts across Allegany County and formed AAA. Today there is a membership of more than 120 from across the county and beyond. Ye only a handful of people have shown up at monthly meetings and even fewer have volunteered to work on AAA projects, according to five active members.

The AAA’s stated mission is to promote and provide artistic opportunities and expand the arts to the residents of the county.

This past year, the AAA participated in the Main Street Festival in Wellsville, Heritage Days in Angelica, and the Garlic Festival in Cuba in the hopes of increasing awareness of the organization and providing art activities for children. AAA held a successful summer arts program at various locations across the county providing artistic opportunities to more than 100 children, free of charge. In the spring it organized a poetry slam for aspiring poets. It has published a quarterly newsletter that highlights new and established artists and announces various artistic and cultural programs and opportunities.

Earlier this month. AAA celebrated its 40th anniversary with a free art exhibition and dance and musical programs. In the meantime, the AAA developed an art sponsorship program and brought the ASI Arts Access Program to the county to provide transportation for individuals to attend artistic and cultural programs.

Active members note that perhaps the shrinking number of people willing to give time to the organization is due to three years of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions and a lack of time for volunteering. Board members also wonder if it because the association has completed its original mission.

They pointed out that in the 21st century it is no longer difficult for artists to establish themselves. Along with social media platforms and websites to get their work in front of the public, there are several galleries throughout the area. The Allegany Artisans helps artists network with others and display and sell their work on the Artisans Tour. There are numerous farmer’s markets and festivals where artists’ works may be marketed. Art is routinely offered in schools; and libraries across the county provide arts and crafts programs for children and adults. There are numerous theatrical, musical and dance opportunities.

At the Dec. 7 meeting, members and sponsors are asked to attend and help decide whether the AAA will continue into its 41st year or disband. They ask members and supporters to attend if they believe AAA is still needed.

RSVP your intention to attend to alleganyartsassociation@hotmail.com.