What? In a United States that some insist on characterizing as a burning dumpster, can there be good news?
Well, here it is: Oneonta, as Otsego County’s “urban core,” has been ranked the eighth most-vibrant small community in America in Southern Methodist University’s fifth annual Arts Vibrancy Index Report.
According to the Census Bureau’s American Factfinder, there are 16,360 towns in the U.S. Not all of them, of course, are “small communities.” Still, eighth puts Oneonta and Otsego County in a very elite sliver of arts-oriented locales.
And, of course it is.
It is home to the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, which thrives while such cities as Honolulu, Syracuse and Albuquerque have lost their orchestras. Shock of shocks, even one of the nation’s “Big Five,” the Philadelphia Orchestra, went through Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011.
There’s the $8 million Foothills Performing Arts Center, owned free and clear, which – hindered by the Great (and long) Recession – is finally getting traction under the steady leadership of Executive Director Bill Youngs and board chair Roxanna Hurlburt.
Over a typical academic year, Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta offer a vast range of top talent from around the nation at the Anderson Arts Center and Goodrich Theater respectively, and in their art galleries.
Oneonta theater troupes? Four, count ’em: Orpheus, Bold Theatrics, Bigger Boat and Stuff of Dreams. Does any similar-sized community have so many. And three dance troupes – Elite, Donna Decker and Jillian’s.
All this in a small city of 14,000.
Beyond the “urban core” of Oneonta, DataArts goes on to single out the Cooperstown museums – the Fenimore and Farmers’ – the Glimmerglass Festival, all nationally known and appreciated. All three are strong, and The Fenimore, beginning this summer with Herb Ritts’ photos from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, began reaching out to a whole new audience, younger, hipper – the future, if you will.
(For whatever reason, Brewery Ommegang has dropped its summertime popular-music concerts, but performers like Norah Jones and Elvis Costello proved there’s a wide draw, at least in summer months.)
Below the Big Three, there are thriving entities like Linda Chesis’ Cooperstown Summer Music Festival, Cherry Valley Artworks’ full series of professional performances at the Star Theater, plus its semi-annual Sculpture Walk.
Gilbertsville’s Major’s Inn has a concert series through the summer, plus arts-related programming year-‘round. (Oneonta filmmaker Joe Stillman is showing his latest documentary, on LBJ’s attorney general, the humanitarian Ramsay Clark, at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday at the Major’s as a fundraiser for the historic venue.)
That reminds us of Barton Kaplan’s Magic Mountain Music Farm in the hills between Gilbertsville and Morris: Top music students from New York City and beyond practice intently for the summer and put on a weekend of performances in a Gllbertsville church.
The monthly Coffee House at the Schuyler Lake Methodist Church – folks with guitars and more – is another example of a decentralized artistic fervor. Here’s another: The Church in Mount Vision, which has been presenting plays all summer long for three years now.
This is hardly comprehensive, and it underscores what a great idea Oneonta’s ArtSpace project is – 66 studio-residential units in a four-story building due to rise on the city’s Dietz Street next year.
The point: While we bemoan what we don’t have – yes, we’re out of natural gas and electricity, if anyone wants to open a factory here – we should be developing what we do.
The DataArts ranking brought to mind former Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller’s Arts Summit in January 2011 at Foothills – it was terrific. There must have been 100 artists and arts enthusiasts there.
Miller was his usual droll self, telling the bubbling gathering, ““I’m not in it for the arts; I’m in it for the economy.”
But he had a point. He offered $200,000 from a City Hall budget surplus – yes, those WERE the days – to help get a comprehensive effort to promote arts off the ground. It never got any traction, but why shouldn’t it?
County Rep. Meg Kennedy, R-Mount Vision, is leading up a countywide Energy Task Force. Why not a countywide Arts Development Task Force?
It wouldn’t have to be government based; there’s plenty of arts leadership clout around here. Something like the 55-member Energy Task Force might be too much. But how about a six-member task force with heavy hitters like The Fenimore’s Paul D’Ambrosio and SUNY Oneonta’s Janet Nepkie, who created the college’s amazing Music Industry major. It could be privately run.
Now, arts is a summer magnet. How about a summer and fall magnet? Then maybe a summer, fall and Christmas magnet? Then add in a winter carnival component.
As SMU DataArts documented, we have what it takes to be much more.
ONEONTA’S EARDLEY ISN’T GIVING UP
It was the Angry Birds that bested all of the contestants on this evening’s episode of Ninja Warrior, including Oneonta’s own Anthony Eardley. The obstacle, seen above, is the second to last on the course, and is styled to promote the upcoming movie Angry Birds 2. Leaping to a platform that rotated while also unable to see the handholds on it proved too challenging for Eardley and all of his fellow contestants despite a strong and confident run on the course. Eardley finished in 16th place, just missing out of the top 13 who advance to the next round in Las Vegas. But, Oneonta’s ninja is far from out. He has his sights on competing in the Florida Ninja League on August 24 and Ultimate Backyard Warrior on Labor Day Weekend. Following the show at Foothills, Eardley took time to talk with fans and pose for pictures, like this one with Camden Hill, 5, Cooperstown, who is already training to be a ninja himself. To watch the episode click here (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – At his halfway point in his run on the “American Ninja Warrior” course, Oneonta native Anthony Eardley paused.
Then, he danced.
“I heard the crowd cheering, ‘Go, Ninja, go!’” he said. “I thought, that’s for me, and I had to.”
Monday night, about 100 people packed Foothills black box theater to watch Eardley take the “American Ninja Warrior” qualifying course in Baltimore, Md.
Sue Jarema, Schenevus, Jeff Moore, Oneonta, Doug Decker, Oneonta, and Nick Sanna, Schenevus, fake conversation as their wait their turn for their costume parade for “Damn Yankees,” the famed Broadway musical comedy about a man who makes a deal with the Devil to help his favorite baseball team win the pennant. At left, George Wells (playing Joe Boyd) has a laugh at the oversized wardrobe of Michael Tamburrino, who plays Boyd’s alter-ego Joe Hardy. The show runs March 29, 30 and 31 at the Bettiol Theater at Foothills. Tickets can be purchased at Orpheus.org. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Speaking to the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours get-together hosted at Foothills this past week, I delivered the following message and I would like to share it with everyone.
As I enter into my sixth year as director this summer, I’d like to thank the Oneonta community and the entire region for their support in 2018, which was our best year ever.
I am proud to report that we hosted a record 321 events which included everything from music (Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Deana Carter, Thompson Square), comedy (Amy Schumer and The Not Too Far From Home Comedy Tour), a Wedding Expo, live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera, local dance companies, local theater groups, weddings, private parties, to business and organizational conferences. And the list goes on.
By JENNIFER HILL
ONEONTA – Oneonta Theater can be back in business again for $3 million.
Evan Delli Paoli, an architect with the New York City-based firm, Holzman Moss Botino, told a gathered audience at Foothills on Tuesday, Feb. 19 that amount would pay for basic but necessary restorations and improvements needed to make Oneonta Theater operational.
That was the final conclusion in the feasibility study, headed by Duncan Webb, Webb Management Services, into whether or not the Oneonta Theatre could be saved.
Delli Paoli labeled that combination of cost and restoration items as a “Good” budget item as well as two other budget-restoration packages labeled “Better” and “Best.” Their budgets were $6 million and $10 million, respectively, with more restoration items and higher quality work corresponding to the costs.
“All three of these price points are so the project can move forward,” Delli Paoli said.
Basic work on the theater included such items as stabilizing the theater’s interiors and overall structure and bringing the building into code compliance. The higher cost packages added items such as restoration of the theater’s interior plaster and enlarging the orchestra pit.
Delli Paoli also presented a list of “a la carte” restoration/improvement items that he said could be done independently or in addition to one of the three suggested budget categories.
He also proposed $2-300,000 for doing minor improvements to the Foothills Theater. He said his firm envisioned the Oneonta Theater and Foothills established as anchors of a new arts district in Oneonta.
By LIBBY CUDMORE – Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – The consultants at Webb Management will give their final recommendations for a five-year business plan for the Oneonta Theatre at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 at Foothills.
The performing arts management consultants, who shared their initial findings in December, will report on their study of the local demographics and tourism data for our area and region, and give an overview of their recommendations for a five-year business plan for a revived Oneonta Theatre.
Over 200 people attended this afternoon’s annual Bridal Expo at the Foothills Performing Arts Center. Above, Oneonta’s Haley Manion and daughter Michele Donovan sample a Three Philosophers Cake served by Linn Briggs, a partner with Marjorie Landers Cakes in Cooperstown. At right, Kathryn Kroll, who has been supplying flowers for over 30 years at Coddington’s Florist in Oneonta, shows off a sampling of her bridal bouquets. Brides-to-be could sample-browse over 45 vendors, including DJs, caterers, florists, photographers, venues, travel agents and, of course, wedding dresses. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Was it Mr. Mustard in the bedroom with the rope? Or Mrs. Scarlett in the study with the revolver? Only the Oneonta High School drama club knows the answer as they present “Clue: On Stage.” Tickets, $10. 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Jan. 11-12, Oneonta High School, 130 Upper East Street, Oneonta. (607) 433-8200.