CAMBRIDGE — When David Snider arrived in Washington County from Washington, D.C., slightly more than two years ago, he said he was amazed at just how many arts opportunities there were in rural eastern New York.
“When I arrived, I was amazed to discover how many artists and arts organizations live and work here,” he said. “I was also inspired from the work to try and bring us together more often in order to collaborate on our shared needs, achievements and goals.”
This year, using a $48,000 Culture & Heritage grant from New York State Council on the Arts, Snider and his staff will start making more connections among those arts groups.
“I am psyched. This is something I have been wanting to do since I got here,” Snider said. “The ultimate point of all this is to advocate for the county. We also need to make interconnections within the county.
“This way, we can advocate for the arts in Washington County at the state and federal levels.”
The grant was announced in December, but last week Snider announced a series of meetings on the Washington County Creative Assets Mapping project this summer to develop a list of local groups and start connecting them.
The project will start with six meetings that are open to artists and arts organizations. They will be at 10 a.m. July 7, 12 and 26; at 2 p.m. July 14 and 28; and at 10 a.m. Aug. 23. The first two meetings will be at Hubbard Hall and the rest could be at other sites in the county.
The goal will be to begin a draft directory of arts and artists in Washington County that will then be shared with the state Council on the Arts and will be available online and in print.
The directory will give residents and visitors an invaluable tool for identifying and working with local arts, while also providing new tourism efforts in the county by furnishing a missing piece of the puzzle — a map of the depth and breadth of the arts in Washington County.
Those interested in becoming involved can sign up in advance at email@example.com. Snider said the group wants to work throughout as much of the county as possible during the project.
Because the county arts community is so wide and varied, Snider pointed out, he and his group will have to limit the scope of the initial work, but eventually they plan to include everything arts-related.
Snider said that in order to have a workable number of listings, “we are defining “arts” for this round as: performing, visual, sculptural, literary, design, technological and clothing or material-related. These are initial parameters and by no means meant to exclude anyone.”
Snider said the project is focused on artists who work in Washington County.
He acknowledged that the agricultural arts and artisanal food are not on the list, to allow the project to get started. He said those could be added within two years.
“We are avoiding these parts of the arts for now, until we get the rest fairly mapped and have the capacity to add on,” Snider said.
Hubbard Hall is an arts community based in an 1878 opera house in Cambridge.