The creative process can be an insular one. Whether it’s a visual artist working by him- or herself in a studio, or a performer working collaboratively on a stage production, artists (and writers, for that matter) tend to spend a lot of time either alone or with a small group of their peers. While that kind of concentrated focus is enjoyable for creative types, there’s a lot to be said for “getting out there,” too, and meeting other people who do what you do.
That’s the idea behind the Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Festival taking place on Saturday, October 6 at Hasbrouck Park in New Paltz from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is produced by the Arts Community, a nonprofit organization established more than 30 years ago to support the arts locally and to make them accessible to everyone. The group’s Melanie Cronin says that the COTA Festival is all about bringing a diversity of expression into the community, and creating relationships and opportunities among artists of all ages, disciplines and skill levels. “Networking is one of the most valuable tools an artist has to be successful in the arts,” she says.
The COTA Festival will feature two stages hosting performances by dancers, singers and musicians who represent a wide variety of musical genres and styles, from family-friendly Fuzzy Lollipop to local singer/songwriter/musician Rhett Miller, whom Cronin calls “a hidden gem of the Hudson Valley.” She says that someone like Miller, who lives locally but has a well-established career on the road performing and recording, can inspire the young ones to pursue their dreams, “showing them it’s possible, that he’s doing it.”
Author readings will be held throughout the day, with a dozen writers of books for children and young adults on hand to read from their works. The visual arts will be represented by both professional and aspiring artists, says Cronin. “We have artists who have never shown their work before, and others who have shown in museums.”
Food will be available for purchase, and fun things like a 20-foot-tall inflatable bunny will add to the festivities as well. Admission is free.
The Celebration of the Arts Festival started back in 2007 as the vision of local resident Noelle Kimble-McEntee, who was just 15 years old at the time. “Noelle was being homeschooled by her parents, and was involved in the performing arts as an actress and dancer,” explains Cronin. “She had so many wonderful experiences with people who were supportive of her and the direction of her career that one day she just said to her Mom that she’d like to create something that brings artists of all skill levels and disciplines together on one day, to celebrate what they do.”
With the help of her family, Kimble-McEntee recruited the Arts Community to help her achieve her vision. “Even at age 15, Noelle understood the importance of networking,” says Cronin. “She looked within our community and asked people to support her, and we all came forward.” The organization has produced the COTA Festival every year since.
Kimble-McEntee went on to graduate from college, says Cronin, and traveled the world for a bit, working down in South America for a time. This year, she says, Kimble-McEntee is “back in the fold” and working with the organization once again to produce the COTA Festival, in charge of social media for the event.
A full schedule of performances and author readings to be held at the event can be found online at www.celebrationofthearts.net/COTA/ScheduledEvents.html.
The sixth annual Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Festival will be held at Hasbrouck Park on Mohonk Avenue in New Paltz on Saturday, October 6 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.celebrationofthearts.net.