The Easton Arts Council was founded almost 25 years ago by a group of concerned citizens who felt that there was a need for an arts organization in the community. An ad was put in the Easton Courier about an exploratory committee meeting and a date was set.
The first meeting was held in the old library on a Friday afternoon. To my surprise about 12 people showed up. There was a definite commitment from the group to explore the possibility of creating an arts council. One driving factor was that there was a new library being built which would have for the first time a public venue for art exhibition.
But the group was not limited to just visual artists, there were performing artists, actors and musicians, photographers, floral designers, writers and film directors. It was interesting to see what a diverse group evolved from these first meetings.
More meetings followed. We set up a list of goals. By-laws were created and we became incorporated as a 501c3.
At this time, the Easton library, schools, Town Hall and local gathering places are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But many fine and performing artists are at work in their home studios, pursuing their art in this time of social distancing. Easton Arts Council programming will resume along with other local facilities and programs once it’s safe to do so.
The purpose of the Arts Council is to foster and encourage the arts in all their forms in the town of Easton and to increase the impact of the arts in community life. Goals include but are not limited to
- Showcase community artists.
- Foster communication between the schools and the Arts Community.
- Develop cooperation among local community organizations and the Arts Community.
- Recognize and encourage young artists in the community.
The Arts Council is an independent organization and is not affiliated with the town. We have a close working relationship with the library in that we use the community room for our art shows and performances.
In the beginning years, the Arts Council was first trying to find itself. We got involved in many diverse community projects ranging from a Family Photo Day, a Regional Youth Arts Festival with the Redding Arts Council and awards of recognition to graduating high school students.
Our first art show at the new library was in 1998 and featured a reception with a local classical guitarist. When we had such a great turnout we realized that there was definitely a need for arts exhibits in town. The first Winter Celebration of the Arts and Art Show was chaired by Howard Aaron in 2003. Since then we have had a highly successful show every year with an evening reception well attended by community artists.
We also have tried to get involved with other community organizations and in particular fund raising events. We helped raise money for the new library with a concert, took part for several years in an all community event known as Easton Day, and raised money for the new Easton Community Center with a Battle of the Bands chaired by David Kant and Diane Aaron.
When we were approached by the Historical Society of Easton to plan a fundraising art show at the Bradley Hubbell House, we eagerly got involved and called it “Art in the House.” This was 2006 and so successful that the event took place for several years at the historic house until it was moved to the Library as “Art in the Country “ to accommodate our enlarging roster of artists. This event has been chaired by Kris Lynch and Howard Aaron since 2011.
Through the years we have tried to accommodate local artists who wanted to sponsor an event that would be more successful if it had the backing of the Arts Council. Some of the events we got involved in were a benefit concert for a young pianist, a local craft show on the town green, and we donated painted stools to the Easton Community Center.
We sponsored a showing of one of our member’s films about Bats and made it a Halloween event for the children. We sponsored a young member’s goal to have a ceramics show at the Library and helped raise money for the donation of a piece of artwork by local artist Lubomir Tomaszewski to the town.
In 2005 we picked up the sponsorship and running of the Easton Photo Contest from the Citizens for Easton who were no longer able to do it. We have been running it ever since. This year, for the first time, we changed our entry rules from just being of Easton photos to any type of photo and had our largest show ever. The winning Easton photos are donated to the Town Hall where they are hung in perpetuity. We also make a calendar out of the winning and most popular photos of Easton every year.
One of our major commitments is to the Youth of Easton. To that end we have sponsored an Annual Youth Art Show which is preceded by a Youth Framing Workshop. This event is made possible with a yearly generous donation from the Easton Lions Club. We also give out monetary awards of recognition annually to Helen Keller Middle School eighth graders and Joel Barlow High School juniors. These awards are named after two founding arts council members, Nancy White and Diane Aaron.
We support the theater arts with an annual Reader’s Theatre and an annual musical performance by the Hot To Trot Trio. In 2016 we celebrated our 20th anniversary with a reception and art show. The date was named Easton Arts Council Day in honor of our support of arts in the community with a Proclamation from the First Selectman.
We have always had a special relationship with the Easton Public Library. We are permitted to use the community room as the venue for our art shows and performances and in return we give an annual donation to the library. We have recently co-sponsored a film series which is very well attended at the library.
From a small group of arts enthusiasts over 20 years ago has arisen a non-profit organization which seeks to serve arts for young and old in the Easton community. Find out more about the Easton Arts Council here.
Photo at top: Hot to Trot Trio: Joanne Kant, Tom Zimmerman and Olga Kalinina.