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Arts council settles in to Snell Hall home

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POTSDAM — The St. Lawrence County Arts Council has a new home.

A financial shortfall prompted the council to move from its more visible 51 Market St. location to an office inside Old Snell Hall, between Main and Elm streets, earlier this month.

“We’re getting settled in and working on some of our upcoming programs,” Director Rebekah L. Wilkins-Pepiton said.

The old location cost nearly $15,000 a year in rent and utilities. Membership fees, grant funds and proceeds from the gift shop were not enough to justify the cost of the space, Ms. Wilkins-Pepiton said. Rent and utilities in Snell Hall are less than $3,000 annually.

Snell Hall already was home to the council’s artists’ studios and educational programming space.

The council’s art gallery, which shows work by local artists, will be moved to the Town Hall at 18 Elm St. The first exhibit will open Sept. 20 to honor International Peace Day.

The work on display will change every six to eight weeks, with occasional receptions that will be free and open to the public.

The council’s gift shop has been closed.

The council has four employees. A fifth’s salary was funded through a state grant, but with the expiration of the grant and the shop’s closing, that position was eliminated.

“A lot of the day-to-day stuff really hasn’t changed at all. It’s just that we don’t have a gift shop to run,”Ms. Wilkins-Pepiton said.

The council has partnered with the North Country Children’s Museum and Clarkson University to remodel Snell Hall and turn it into a regional arts and interactive learning center. This would include exhibit space for the museum and a gallery for the Arts Council.

In the meantime, the council will continue to plan its major events for the rest of the year.

The Remington Festival will return to Canton Oct. 5, with 22 artisans selling their wares. The festival, which celebrates the legacy of 19th-century local artist Frederic S. Remington, is always held at the same time as St. Lawrence University’s parents weekend.

The council’s annual artist studio tour, which sees artists countywide opening their workplaces to the public, will be held Nov. 9 to 11.

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