If you’re part of the business community in Westchester, chances are, you’re already connected with ArtsWestchester, New York State’s largest private, nonprofit arts council, which is focused on boosting the availability, accessibility, and diversity of the arts here in Westchester County. (You might even have its CEO, Janet Langsam, on speed dial.) The organization’s immeasurable impact on the local arts community and the arts’ contribution to the local economy are on display during ArtsWestchester’s 50th anniversary this year.
Last week, at its White Plains offices, ArtsWestchester, along with artists, community leaders, and members of the Westchester County government, unveiled the lineup of its 50th anniversary festival, one of the largest and most impressive arts festivals in Westchester County’s history.
Called ARTSEE: A Festival of New Work, it’s packed with dance, film, theater, art exhibitions, concerts, open studios, poetry readings, and more. ARTSEE encompasses 70 events with 40 organizations over five months starting in March and running through July.
At the kickoff event, Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett, speaking about the festival and the organization’s contribution to the economy, said, “Westchester County has become a regional destination for the arts, and this festival is further proof Westchester is a place where new work is created and enjoyed. ARTSEE enriches our cultural and is great for our economy as well.”
He’s not kidding. According to a recent study commissioned by Americans for the Arts, the arts generate more than $157 million in economic activity in Westchester, a figure that has been on an upward trajectory since 1995. The study also shows that the arts support nearly 5,000 jobs and creates $115 million in household income. And, in recent years, our arts organizations have increasingly drawn cultural tourists from outside the county, who were shown to spend roughly 70 percent more than local attendees.
“The launch of a five-month arts festival in Westchester is a boon for business that will leverage spending by arts and cultural audiences throughout the county,” said Mike Minihan, a partner with WTP Advisors in White Plains, and member of ArtsWestchester’s board of trustees. “Arts audiences visit local restaurants, hotels, downtown retail stores, and parking garages before and after they visit the theaters, museums, and exhibits in our cities and towns. The arts help inspire both tourism and revenue for our county’s downtowns and cultural destinations.”
The festival includes some of Westchester most iconic arts institutions such as the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Emelin Theatre, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Katonah Museum of Art, Music Conservatory of Westchester, Sarah Lawrence College, SUNY Purchase, and the Taconic Opera, among many others. And the list of festival sponsors reads like a who’s who of the business community, including Entergy, First Niagara, Westchester Medical Center, New York State Council on the Arts (with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature), Westchester County Government (with the support of Rob Astorino and Westchester County Board of Legislators), National Endowment for the Arts, and Con Edison.