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Nonprofit Organizations – Light, Laughter, Creativity: Leader Seeks to Make Saratoga Arts the Center of the Saratoga Springs Art Scene | The Daily Gazette

The Saratoga Arts Building is located on Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs, so it should come as no surprise that Executive Director Louise Kerr envisions it as the center of the arts throughout Spa City.

“Saratoga Arts is ideal to be the broker and center that brings everyone together,” Kerr said in her office hours after the organization’s launch campaign. “During the pandemic, many of the smaller organizations, many of which we finance — for example, Shakespeare in the park, the Beekman Street art festivals — all these smaller organizations were unable to do what they were doing.

“Either they were going to fold and, unfortunately, some of them did, or they needed to turn around and act differently. I knew that Saratoga Arts was uniquely positioned to provide them with a place where they would be appreciated by everyone and to boldly share our resources because we could be the hub to keep them going. ”

The City of Saratoga Springs has committed $ 700,000 to the exterior of the 25-year-old building, Kerr said, and Saratoga Arts has launched a major campaign to raise an additional $ 500,000 for interior improvements.

Some of the renovations already completed were completed during the pandemic, including removing carpeting in all public areas and removing chairs that could not be disinfected and replacing them with 200 easy-to-clean theater chairs.

All of this happened during the 14 months that Kerr was at the helm of Saratoga Arts, which hosts exhibitions with regional artists, grants and art classes / workshops, among other community-focused programs.

She left her job at Olana State Historic Site, a National Historic Landmark in the Hudson Valley National Heritage Site, to take a job in the resort town.

It had two immediate challenges: funding and visibility.

“I like to say in a way that I run my nonprofit as a profit-driven business,” Kerr said. “At the very least, I need to really make sure we’re breaking even and delivering good steady income.”

She built a country house near Great Sakandaga Lake over a decade ago and visited Saratoga Springs every weekend during her escape from Manhattan.

More: Special section – Non-profit organizations

But Kerr, an architect from the University of Glasgow and an MFA from the New York City School of Painting, Painting and Sculpture, was unaware of the Saratoga Arts Center.

“I realized that I had never stepped into this building. I thought it was a problem if I didn’t know about the arts center, and I’ve been traveling to Saratoga for decades, ”Kerr said. “In fact, it’s something crossed – I realized that most people do not know who we are and what we do.

“This past year has been a re-introduction of who Saratoga Arts is, what it does and why we are a vital component of the community.”

Despite taking a position at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent closure orders, Kerr has always been optimistic.

“A little over a year has passed, and I would be lying if I said that this is not a tough climb. It was a titanic effort and I had an incredible, amazing, small but powerful staff that lifted us up, ”Kerr said.

Kerr added that in recent summer camps, the most children have gone through the Saratoga Arts Center in the organization’s history, and that the organization is on track to meet its pre-pandemic financial goals.

“I think the pandemic is driven by this joy, especially for nonprofits in the arts and culture,” Kerr said. “People understand how much your community needs it, and that’s why you live there. These are things that just bring light, laughter and creativity. People are ready and willing to really help, so I feel really happy. “

Saratoga Arts
Year of foundation: 1986 year
Mission: To enrich the region by fostering an active community of artists and making art available to all.
Areas Served: Saratoga, Fulton, and Montgomery Counties.
To quote: “Saratoga Arts is ideal to be the mediator and center that brings everyone together.” – Louise Kerr, CEO

More: Special section – Non-profit organizations

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Categories: Life and Art, Nonprofit Organizations 2021

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