Following a merger between the Arts Council for Chautauqua County and the Reg Lenna Civic Center in August, the future got a bit brighter for the downtown arts scene.
According to Len Barry, program coordinator and interim marketing associate for the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, the merger has tightened things up for the organization, allowing it to offer better services to the greater arts community.
"This merger has helped us provide better box office and venue rental offerings to local organizations, as well as publicize their events more because we're more focused now," Barry said. "Now that we've got a tighter focus on what goes on our stage, we're able to present a more complete season to the greater community."
Barry believes local organizations who utilize the Reg Lenna stage, such as the Lucille Ball Center For Comedy, Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet, Chautauqua Regional Youth Symphony, Infinity Visual and Performing Arts and many others, will see the benefit of the merger going forward.
"They fill these niches, and we're able to put on shows for the community," Barry said. "Our resources can carve other niches as well. We already have a family and youth series, a partnership with Southern Tier Brewing Company that allows us to put bands on the stage and Broadway shows such as 'Smokey Joe's Cafe' that we did in September."
Looking forward to the 2014 season, Barry has high hopes for level of programming the The Reg Lenna Center for the Arts will be able to provide area residents, he said. And, although the 2014 schedule hasn't yet been completed, by securing acts such as Jim Brickman, who is set to come on Feb. 7, and Irish Tenor Ronan Tynan, who is scheduled to appear on March 6, area residents might just be able to get their hopes up too.
"From the outside looking in, I think to the average patron who would come to our website or see our materials but not know which group was presenting each show - they would see a complete season coming up," Barry said.
The Reg Lenna Center for the Arts also recently received a $75,000 grant from the Regional Economic Development Council to allow it to purchase a digital projector to continue its film series. Before receiving the grant, the center was raising funds via a fundraising campaign, and according to Barry the money raised will also be utilized for the implementation of the new projector.
Off stage, the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts will also feature arts programming at galleries such as 3rd on 3rd and the Dykeman Young. Examples of such programming include the continuation of Women Create and the new Colonize exhibit.
Barry isn't the only one excited about the future of the organization, Vanessa Weinert, board member for the Arts Council for Chautauqua County, called the merger intuitive and organic.
"Their visions really are the same - development of arts in the downtown area and using arts as a way for economic development," Weinert said. "I think when you look at the big picture of the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts for 2014, we really want to see it as a place that people think about going on a weekly basis."
Barry recommends area residents keep their eyes out in the coming weeks for a series of announcements about the future of the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts. One such announcement has already been made - starting in January the organization will bring on a new executive director, Kathleen Eads.
"She has a very interesting background - we're counting on her to look at everything top to bottom to help guide us," Barry said.
The Reg Lenna Center for the Arts is located at 116 E. Third St. in Jamestown. For more information, call 664-2465, visit www.reglenna.com or search for "Arts Council For Chautauqua County" on Facebook.