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Leave IAM Where I Am: Keep the arts in Brookwood Hall

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As an Islip Town resident I am against your decision to move the Islip Art Museum and Islip Arts Council out of Brookwood Hall. I have enjoyed this museum for several years and I have been delighted with the progression of arts, music, culture and history, especially since the management of the Museum by the Islip Arts Council. Brookwood Hall has been home to these cultural treasures for nearly 40 years and now combined with the Historical Societies only adds to the sense of culture and diversity when one enters this building. Office space and conference rooms will not give the community the sense of culture, history, art, or education. Quite frankly, the public will feel as if they’ve awkwardly entered private space. I can expose myself and my family to the newest, cutting edge contemporary art, explore the history of our town, take art classes taught by professional artists and watch a live musical performance all in one building and all within a limited budget (or in many cases free). Our youth are exposed to art, history, music and outdoor park space. In a time where the arts are being excluded in public schools these events all under one roof are invaluable. Moving the Islip Arts Council and Islip Art Museum out of Brookwood Hall would be moving the community away from culture and art by depriving so many people of the positive experience they have when entering Brookwood Hall as the cultural arts center of the town of Islip. The Islip Art Museum has been a cultural treasure in Brookwood Hall for 40 years moving this space will eliminate the possibility of our mature or disabled patrons visiting. There will not be enough space for classes and lectures, and again disabled citizens would be excluded from this cultural experience. It is a known fact that investing in the arts brings recognition and prosperity to the local community. This is clearly evident by the growth shown with the Islip Arts Council, Islip Art Museum, and the School of Cultural Arts with Brookwood Hall as the cultural center. The thousands of visitors who come through that building each year for the contemporary art, history, art classes, lectures, and workshops will certainly not visit offices and conference rooms. I do not support this decision, and I am urging you to not close the door on this cultural arts center and leave the Museum, the Islip Arts Council, and the School of Cultural Arts in Brookwood Hall where they belong. SOME FACTS: The Islip Art Museum is located in one of Long Island’s largest townships with a diverse population of approximately 340,000 residents. Value to the community expands beyond their position as the only Museum / art facility in our area, and the only institution that regularly presents exhibitions focusing on contemporary and cutting-edge art. Diverse and innovative programs bring a wide range of historical, artistic, and multi-cultural interests to the town of Islip. The Islip Art Museum has collaborated with colleges and scholars to bring a Museum studies program to the community to conduct scholarly research. This program is the only undergraduate museum studies program in the Northeast! The IAM offers luncheons and lectures to coincide with exhibits and educate the community as well as many opportunities for local artists. Because the Museum’s mission emphasizes process, artists often partner with the Museum to create new work. Their annual Open Call is designed to attract local artists and provide them with the opportunity to interact with Museum curatorial staff. Points to consider: MUSEUM The Islip Art Museum has been in its current location for approximately 40 years and is known internationally as a Contemporary Art Museum. An International art show has been contracted for the Summer of 2013. The Museum is frequented by over 7,000 visitors per year. Grants will be lost if museum does not maintain its goal and mission, and the possibility of receiving accreditation through the American Association of Museums would be compromised with the proposed move. This National Recognition would be a great honor to Islip Town, and the application for this accreditation is ready to go. Artists and curators have already been contracted for future shows through 2014 including Tobi Kahn, and five other artists which have contracted for site specific installations in an upcoming exhibit. There may be a legal responsibility to maintain location with these contractual agreements. The IAM has established a unique collaboration with several local Historical Societies. These relationships have exposed visitors of the history exhibits to contemporary art and Contemporary art patrons with the history of the Town of Islip – creating a mutual respect and appreciation. A Museum studies minor is now offered at Dowling College as a result of the Islip Arts Council and Islip Art Museum agreement. This program is growing in enrollment, and interns are scheduled to work on conserving the permanent collection. The Museum has lectures and workshops which revolve around current exhibits and generally include tours. These programs cannot be offered in the proposed location. Recently lectures have included a representative from a Chelsea Gallery. Hit the Lights, developed less than one year ago as an artist networking event, has already quadrupled in the number of guests thereby creating new networks from all of Long Island, the five NY boroughs, and beyond. Slide Slam is another networking where invited guests are art world professionals including curators, museum directors, collectors, and critics. The event is open to the public and is an open call for artists to present work to this audience of art professionals seeking new talent. This is a popular concept in Europe and is the equivalent of a “scouting” event for artists further enhancing the museum’s commitment to offer opportunity to local artists. New York Foundation for the Arts conducts artist consultations here at Brookwood Hall – creating new opportunities for local artists. Permanent Installations on the grounds of Brookwood Hall include the following artists (please visit individual artist site for complete listing of museums and galleries): SOUL FURNACE by Alex & Allyson Grey. These artists have shown at PS1 in New York, the DeCordova Art Museum in Boston, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Federal Reserve Art Gallery in Boston. CONCRETE MAO by Zhang Hongtu. This artist has shown at Saatchi Gallery. MOST OF US ARE IMMIGRANTS by Janet Goldner which serves “as a reminder of our collective heritage as Americans” and was shown at Sara Delano Roosevelt Park for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation & Museum of Art and Design in New York. Islip Art Museum has consistently received press coverage for many years through the NY TIMES and NEWSDAY. This brings positive exposure to the Town of Islip and Brookwood Hall. http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/organizations/i/islip_art_museum/index.html Previous exhibits have included many well known contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol. Most recently Prints Please; Selections from ULAE included the following artists (and a fabulous write up in the NY TIMES): Lee Bontecou, Cecily Brown, Sam Francis, Jane Hammond, Bill Jensen, Jasper Johns, Joey Kotting, Julian Lethbridge, Suzanne McClelland, Elizabeth Murray, Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, James Rosenquist, James Sienna, Kiki Smith, Cy Twomby, Terry Winters, Lisa Yuskavage Some of the works by the above artists recently sold at Sotheby’s (Contemporary Art Day May 10, 2012): Rauschenberg $626,500 Francis $566,000 Rosenquist $362,500 Smith $74,500 Yuskavage $53,125 At Christies May 2010 Jasper Johns $28,600,000 A Harvard University Museum Studies Graduate student is conducting research on the positive impact the Islip Art Museum is having on the local and global community and the art world. It would be devastating to have the publication end with the Islip Art Museum’s own decades long backers stopping the progress of diversification and culture to obtain “extra” office space. A City University of New York Art History Graduate student is currently conducting research on some of the decorative arts pieces within the building. This could result in future grants and more international recognition. Since the Islip Arts Council’s start of supervision of the Museum, the Museum store has doubled in sales volume. It offers local artisans the chance to sell hand created artisanal wares. The Museum store exhibition space is curated, and it features under-represented local artists in an effort to jump-start their careers and further exposes the community to the arts. The proposed location may not be handicapped accessible, the exhibition space is not comparable, and the walls and lighting need to be updated to meet the specifications required for accreditation. There are no loading docks or doors wide enough to fit the artwork for exhibitions. It will be very expensive (even if money was available) to turn this relatively small historic Dutch colonial home into a shadow of what the Museum has had for the past four decades. In addition we could lose many of the patrons and students as they may not under the current conditions be able to enter the proposed building. Many of these patrons are cultured in the arts yet on fixed incomes or they can no longer physically endure the long ride to Manhattan and through the Islip Art Museum are able to view the newest cutting edge art for a “suggested” few dollars. These patrons will be forced to forgo a life long interest in art and culture. On top of all that, there is no room for the Islip Art Museum’s Permanent Collection. There are over 250 pieces in this permanent collection. This collection has been obtained by speculating on local artists and artistic trends of the time. This work is shown to the community throughout the year in the permanent collection gallery. SCHOOL OF CULTURAL ARTS Budget cuts to schools have drastically cut programs in art and music to local schools. The Islip Arts Council School of Cultural Arts fills that void by offering classes in art, music, and theater. Adult classes are offered for various skill levels and mediums. All classes are taught by professional artists and/or certified art educators, masters in their field. Workshops coincide with museum exhibitions. Classes are specifically offered for our “mature” population. Students are exposed to on-site museum and historical exhibitions. Summer camps bring hundreds of children to Brookwood Hall and have been featured in the NY TIMES and NEWSDAY. National Art Honor Society students have completed volunteer hours as Museum docents. College admission officers have commended students for time and dedication to the arts. These students have enjoyed the experience so much they have remained with Museum as volunteers. Another major problem with the proposed location is that there is no room for the SCHOOL OF CULTURAL ARTS. This would become a terrible loss for the community. The New York State Art Teachers’ Association held its first ever Portfolio Project Student Exhibition at the Islip Art Museum showing work from students from Massapequa to Mattituck. The event brought hundreds of family members, friends, and community members to the Museum. The School of Cultural Arts and has grown over 400% since being managed by the Islip Arts Council. This plus the Museum’s growth has been done at less than half the cost from when the Museum was run by town employees. The takeover was spearheaded by the town administration to save money on salaries, pensions, and health benefits. Much of the work of the Museum is now volunteered or low paid. Grants garnered through the 501c3 status of the Islip Arts Council help pay some of the bills. The SCHOOL OF CULTURAL ARTS has become a wonderful source of funding for the Museum, too. MORE THOUGHTS AND FACTS A Senatorial letter addressed to the Appropriations Committee March 29, 2012 and the National Endowment for the Arts state, “for every one dollar spent on federal arts initiatives there are eight non-federal dollars leveraged while at the same time children and communities are enriched through access to the arts that they might not otherwise have.” It is also stated, “with the non-profit arts industry generating $166.2 billion annually in economic activity and supporting 5.7 million full-time jobs.” New York is home to 53,085 art related businesses employing 335,683 people. (Arts NYS Coalition) “Communities are investing in an industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is the cornerstone of tourism.” That quote is from Arts & Economic Prosperity III, the National Report. This report shows conclusively that, locally as well as nationally, the arts mean business…Nonprofit arts and culture organizations in the United States drive a $166 billion industry—a growth industry that supports 5.7 million full-time jobs and generates nearly $30 billion in government revenue annually. Arts and culture organizations—businesses in their own right—leverage significant event-related spending by their audiences that pumps vital revenue into restaurants, hotels, retail stores, parking garages, an office space, airfare, or advertising space. The following quotes are from leaders and supporters as in Arts & Economic Prosperity III: This report reinforces why many cities and towns across the nation are stepping up to support the continued growth of arts and culture. Not only do the arts provide a much needed social escape for many in our communities—they also help drive local economies. Having an abundance of unique arts and events means more revenue for local businesses and makes our communities more attractive to young, talented professionals–whose decisions on where to start a career or business are increasingly driven by quality of life and the availability of cultural amenities. Bart Peterson Mayor of Indianapolis, IN President, National League of Cities Across America, cities that once struggled economically are reinventing and rebuilding themselves by investing in art and culture. Both are proven catalysts for growth and economic prosperity. By creating cultural hubs, nonprofit art businesses help cities define themselves, draw tourists, and attract investment. Federal support for America’s nonprofit cultural organizations must go on if we hope to continue enjoying the substantial benefits they bring. Louise M. Slaughter U.S. House of Representatives (NY) Co-Chair, Congressional Arts Caucus There is no better indicator of the spiritual health of our city, its neighborhoods, and the larger region than the state of the arts. The arts deepen our understanding of the human spirit, extend our capacity to comprehend the lives of others, allow us to imagine a more just and humane world. Through their diversity of feeling, their variety of form, their multiplicity of inspiration, the arts make our culture richer and more reflective. Jonathan Fanton President, MacArthur Foundation In my own philanthropy and business endeavors, I have seen the critical role that the arts play in stimulating creativity and in developing vital communities. As this study indicates, the arts have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for learning, discovery, and achievement in our country. Paul G. Allen Philanthropist and Co-Founder, Microsoft FINALLY Brookwood Hall has been a cultural institution for nearly 40 years with the Islip Art Museum as the longest "resident" of Brookwood Hall. The Knapps were there for 25 years, the Thornes for 23 years, the Brookyn Orphans for 23 years,and the ISLIP ART MUSEUM has been there for 40 years. Many orphans return to visit the building. Will they be told they cannot visit because the “conference room is being used” or the politician is in a “meeting” in the room they’d like to see? The Islip Arts Council and Museum staff regularly accommodate and give tours to former residents or curious historians. Additional office space and conference rooms do not serve the community nor does it enhance the cultural fabric of Islip, and it may, in fact, seriously damage the relationships between community, artists, historical societies, and the news media. The benefits of supporting the arts to local municipalities are enormous; recent examples of the benefits of supporting the arts are evident in Patchogue and the Hamptons. Brookwood Hall is best used as a public building, open to all, rich in culture centered around the Arts. Visitors are exposed to the newest, cutting edge contemporary art. They can explore the history of the town, take art classes (or send children to art classes), and watch live musical performances all in one building. This can only be a much better use of public space than politicians’ offices and conference rooms. Moving the Islip Arts Council and Islip Art Museum out of Brookwood Hall would be moving the community away from culture and art by depriving so many people of the positive experience they have when entering Brookwood Hall as the cultural arts center of the town of Islip.

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