Community Music and Arts Network: Catskill Mountain Division Events and Workshops

The Problem

The Catskill Mountains are nestled away in rural upstate New York, a thrilling and beautiful area of wildlife and history. With the heart of the Catskills being approximately 140 miles from New York City and 70 miles from Albany, the community has limited access to a variety of resources. The area is historically and culturally rich in the music and the arts, being home of the Byrdcliffe Art colony, the oldest artist colony in the nation. However, the concentration of established locations to share and learn about the arts are dwindling. Due to the recent rise in gas costs, many people living within the area are limiting their travel more than ever. There is limited availability and access to those willing to share their knowledge within the community, especially for a profitable compromised price for service providers, yet affordable for locals. With the current economic state of the country, spending has been cut for many local businesses, such as at the Belleayre Ski Resort, a large venue of revenue for the area. Between the geographic isolation and economic turmoil, opportunities to engage in experiential learning are inadequate. As an artist and hobby musician myself, it is vexing to see my own community lacking culturally enriching opportunities. I also find joy in helping people locate a creative outlet they enjoy. The arts allow one to reach a meditative state, yet encourage interaction with peers and colleagues, whilst providing a gateway to improved self-esteem and cultural awareness. The arts also connect the mind and body, and result in physical and emotional benefits. Being given the chance to create a plan of action to help others succeed beneficially, free of cost, and connect those who are compassionate enough about their talents as to pass on knowledge to others is something I hope to accomplish.

Plan of Action

Work on the specific Session One Guitar Workshop program has been in progress since August 2008. After finding a professional who would be interested in sharing their knowledge of music, and coordinating an appropriate time slot for lessons to occur, I began to scout for a location to facilitate the workshop. After having several meetings of inquiry with Ken Meskill, the Assistant Director at the Fairview Library, it was that the Community Room could be used free of charge for the cause. A building usage form and letter to the Library Board was written up and submitted to the October Fairview Library Board meeting for approval. After gaining approval for the goal location of the Fairvew Community Room, I met with Lesley Rosselli, the music teacher at Margaretville Central School. There are an abundance of guitars that lay unused for the majority of the school year in the music room at Margaretville, and Mrs. Lesley Rosselli offered the use of her room and the guitars to the Community Music and Arts Network and the guitar workshop. Whilst these ideas were developing and communication for approval was pending, a notice of inquiry regarding interest for guitar lessons was posted within the school, as well as being announced on the Morning Announcements. After receiving postie feedback for the idea from members of the community, students, facility, peers, and colleagues, I began to search more heavily for funding options for the project, and stumbled upon DoSomething.org. This began as an idea to mirror a similar project occurring for students in a community about 30 miles away, also started through the Community Music and Arts Network. Though this distance is not great, it is far enough to be inaccessible by those in the lower portion of the Catskill Mountains. Since, this idea has grown into a nearing reality, and will be added to the list of programs myself and the Community Music and Arts Network has been a part of facilitating.

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