The past year has been challenging for everyone, due to the Covid pandemic. Industries and organizations have had to adapt and alter the way they do business. This was certainly true for the Easton Arts Council, which had to adjust to the limitations set in place during an unprecedented time that everyone continues to live through to this day.
Many of the annual events the arts council hosts, such as art and photography exhibits, concerts and dramatic performances, were cancelled in the early months of the pandemic. Some regular events took place virtually as time went on.
Joanne Kant, Easton Arts Council’s founder and president, has loved to sing and perform since she was a little girl. As a member of the first class of women at Yale University in 1969 to 1974, she sang in the Yale Glee Club and was a founding member of the first women’s singing group at Yale, the New Blue. She also sang in the Chapel Choir.
Kant went on to medical school and continued her musical studies with a retired Metropolitan Opera singer while doing her residency in New York City. She later joined an active OB-GYN practice in Bridgeport from which she recently retired. “I feel music is a healing art and I enjoy bringing happiness to people through my performing,” Kant said.
In 1996, a group of local residents, including Kant, felt there was a need for an arts organization to represent artists and creative performers in the Easton area. This group of volunteers formed an independent non-profit organization to support what is known as the Easton Arts Council.
The arts council’s goals are to showcase community artists, foster communication between the schools and the arts community, develop cooperation among local organizations and the arts community, encourage young artists, and provide a forum for local artists to meet and exchange ideas. Essentially, it serves as a hub of artistic expression for individuals through the arts and the values that come along with it.
Many arts council events, showcases and contests take place in the community room at the Easton Public Library. Arts council members are also instrumental in managing the library’s conference room gallery, where they present regular exhibits of local artists.
To meet their goals, arts council members have developed a number of annual events for the community. In January they sponsor an all-member art show, which culminates in a Winter Celebration of the Arts reception where artists can meet, view each other’s work and exchange ideas. Since March is Youth Art Month, the arts council offers a Youth Art show, which is preceded by a framing workshop sponsored by the Lions Club. In May they have a Juried Fine Arts Show, entitled Art in the Country, with a reception.
In the fall, they host a photography contest and exhibit. The winning photo of an Easton venue is donated to the Town Hall where all the photos from more than 25 years are on display. The council also sponsors an annual Readers Theater and an annual musical performance. Every year the council presents monetary recognition awards to two Joel Barlow High School juniors and two Helen Keller Middle School eighth graders for excellence in the visual and performing arts.
For their arts and photography events, they advertise a “call for artists” opportunity in all the local papers, arts schools, libraries, etc. Since these annual events have taken place for many years, people also know about them and look forward to them yearly.
For the juried show, anyone can submit artwork, but because it is juried, not everyone is able to be accepted. Accepted artwork is brought to the library community room and arts council volunteers hang the show. Arts council member Dolly Curtis curates the art shows in the small gallery conference room. She is always on the lookout for local artists to exhibit their work.
In a time like the Covid-19 pandemic, Kant said, “People really need the arts in their lives and the sense of shared community when we view them together.”
Thankfully, the pandemic seems to be receding, as people are getting vaccinated and venues are beginning to reopen. The arts council’s first in-person event in over a year will open on May 17 in the community room as the arts council hosts its Juried Fine Arts Show.
“We have evolved over the years,” Kant said. She sees light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and much to look forward to.
The Easton Arts Council’s website has a great amount of information for the public such as ways to submit artwork, upcoming shows and annual events to look forward to.
You can find more information at: http://www.eastonartscouncil.org/default.htm