In various parts of New York State, the Arts are an integral part of the culture, the sense of community and regional economic development programs. For example, who could think of New York City without Broadway? Saratoga without its famed Performing Arts Center (summer home of the New York City Ballet)? Schenectady without Proctor’s Theatre (the largest movie screen north of Radio City Music Hall)? Even smaller towns and communities have great arts programs, such as New Paltz with its wonderful college and culture, or the Catskill Symphony Orchestra entertaining thousands in Oneonta and Cooperstown. Putnam County would seem to be a place where the arts could flourish, after all we have the wonderful, unique and interesting village of Cold Spring with its vibrant culture, history and personality, Brewster with its charm and beautiful architecture. Both of these Villages alread have developed a niche for arts and culture yet our residents often attend performances in Westchester and Connecticut or head down to Broadway for the latest plays. If we had more to offer they may keep more of the money local. Arts and culture is a beneficial model for community investment, according to a report by the SUNY New Paltz Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO), with some 52 organizations in Putnam County alone having an $11.5 million impact on our economy, attracting about 175,000 visitors per year and leading to about 160 local jobs. We need to find more ways to capitalize on our arts and cultural assets, and utilize these assets more aggressively within our county’s borders.
-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce