Merger Boosts Local Arts Scene

The Jamestown area has many fantastic arts venues, with the Reg Lenna Civic Center standing front and center.

A vibrant arts scene, though, is about more than just venues – it’s about filling those venues with artists by attracting performers from out of the area and providing a space to nurture the county’s homegrown talent. The recent merger of the Reg Lenna Civic Center and the Arts Council for Chautauqua County into the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts should do just that.

Both the Arts Council and the Reg Lenna Civic Center had been without an executive director for more than five years since the departure of David Schein. The all-volunteer boards of the organizations performed yeoman-like work not only in leading the organizations for the past five years, but in coming together to merge the organizations. The combined organization should have the resources to bring in an executive director to strengthen programs and more clout when it comes to finding outside grants.

Board members expect to have an executive director hired sometime in September. Arts Council officials hosted several events featuring local artists over the summer, including the second annual Insomniac Competitive Film Festival and unveiled the Third Street Canvas Urban Literary Trail, while board members point to the upcoming performance of Smokey Joe’s Cafe as indicative of an enhanced direction for the Reg Lenna Civic Center.

“It’s going to be a fantastic show, and we’re going to continue to increase the programming in the Reg Lenna,” Vanessa Weinert, a former Arts Council board member, told The Post-Journal recently. “We’re always going to be your local theater, however, we want to expand to other local acts as well as who is on tour and how we can make the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts part of people’s day-to-day lives in Jamestown – we want the Reg Lenna to be the place where people go to be entertained.”

A strong arts scene is as important for downtown Jamestown’s health and vitality as filling vacant storefronts. Creation of the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts will build on decades of hard work and further strengthen the arts in Chautauqua County.