Kingston Arts Society resumes hosting in-person events

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In the nonprofit’s gallery on Broadway, Brett Felker, executive director of the Arts Society of Kingston (ASK), presented a collage timeline of the local art scene, created by community group Celebrate 845.

Felker highlighted one of the most defining events in ASK’s history on the timeline.

“Right over here,” he said. “Here it is: COVID-19 2020.”

A note attached to a photo of the final pre-lockdown event reads: “This open mic was right here at ASK on March 12, 2020, just before the lockdown. Sad, but a beautiful memory and a great reason to quickly go virtual.

“So after that, everything went digital,” Felker recalls.


What do you want to know

  • After two years of crises and departures, ASK, one of the main pillars of the Hudson Valley art scene, is once again hosting in-person events
  • ASK restarted in-person events in July 2020, suspended them again in December 2021 when the omicron variant swept the northeast, and resumed last weekend with “Stop, Listen,” an in-person exhibit showcasing the work of local artist Natalie Fisk
  • ASK’s executive director can’t help but fear another shutdown, so he wants to maximize the next few months
  • “The more the merrier,” he said. “As soon as it’s safe, we want to get in there because we don’t know how long this sweet spot is going to last”

ASK members devoted more time and energy to online events and screenings, Felker said, and it worked well for some artists.

“We’ve also seen sales for visual arts – we’ve broken records for the past two years for visual arts sales,” he said. “Part of that has been our increased online presence.”

It didn’t go as well for bands and other live performers, as there were no places to play for an in-person audience. Yet ASK continued to provide artists with virtually free tools and services to keep them from abandoning their passions for more traditional jobs.

“We’ve done live shows where only the artists are in the room,” Felker explained. “We offer rehearsals [space]. Groups have recorded albums in our space. In all the ways we can help.

ASK restarted in-person events in July 2020, suspended them again in December 2021 when the omicron variant of COVID-19 swept across the northeast, and resumed last weekend with “Stop, Listen,” a in-person exhibition featuring the work of local artist Natalie Fisk.

The member-funded group has also worked on other community projects like the one next door: a community food pantry with free food for artists and all other neighbors.

“We’re inspired by what you’re doing,” youth defender Pat Pellicano, who helps with the pantry, told Felker of ASK’s cautious response to the pandemic. “It’s just better to be safer, so I think ASK has been great in terms of taking safety into account. So yay for the arts. Yay for being safe. Yeah all around.

Felker is planning other youth arts events and live performances soon.

He can’t help but fear another shutdown, so he wants to maximize the next few months.

“The more the merrier,” he said. “As soon as it’s safe, we want to get in there because we don’t know how long this sweet spot is going to last.”

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