Inside Look: The Bethany Arts Community in Ossining

Westchester boasts plenty of dedicated arts organizations, but the Bethany Arts Community (BAC) is undoubtedly one of the newest. Founded in 2015 by Executive Director David Lyons, the not-for-profit is run from a 1925 mansion in the hills of Ossining. According to Lyons, the council’s birth was inspired by a similar organization up north.

“Upon my visit to Salem Art Works about six years ago, I was moved to create a resource that would provide similar opportunities for artists and residents in our region,” explains Lyons, who began his search for the right spot three years ago. As for why he felt the need to establish the organization in the first place, the answer is simple: to serve his community.

“There’s no such thing as too much art,” says Lyons, “but the reality is that many neighbors get only minimal exposure. We want to make sure that every child has access to arts enrichment, regardless of family means.”

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The BAC is achieving this through a wealth of engaging cultural acts, workshops, after-school programs, camps, courses, scholarships, and school visits. The group also engages in several forms of community outreach and offers artists studios and facilities for rental.

“Bethany’s programming up to this point has developed very organically and will continue to expand that way. Our goal is to fill the gaps in local resources and opportunities,” notes Lyons. “At peak operation, we’ll have a robust mix of performances, gallery exhibitions, children’s and adult classes, studio rentals, and artist-residency program. How that looks will depend on what the community wants and the available partners.”

Earlier this summer, the community held a camp for kids interested in the magical themes of books like Harry Potter that was hosted by Theatre O, and this month the BAC is hosting an art-focused summer camp. “With continued gallery exhibitions, performances, and residencies, my vision is for Bethany to become a supportive place for all artists to come and create,” says Lyons, “[a place] where members of the community can become engaged, challenged, and comforted by art.”

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