EARLVILLE – Just three years after Patti Lockwood-Blais took on the job of executive director at the Earlville Opera House, the New York State Council on the Arts recognized EOH as “particularly vital to the cultural life of New York State.”
After 13 years as the guiding force who has steered growth and programming while also serving as the Opera House’s most visible public ambassador, Lockwood-Blais announced that she is retiring from EOH. “I love my work on behalf of the community at EOH but I need more time and flexibility than the position allows. I still deeply support the mission of this wonderful organization and have pledged to help the new executive director in any way to guarantee its stability during our transition.”
Opera House Board President Bruce Ward said: “I have seen first hand how Patti’s skills and knowledge, drawn from long experience, have kept our organization on a healthy track fiscally while growing our offerings. Continually seeking new ways to engage the community, Patti has built a reputation for fine programming that has won awards and recognition from leading arts organizations, and still kept our bottom line in the black.”
Emblematic of that recognition was the Council on the Arts coveted “Primary Organization Status,” awarded to the Opera House in 2006. The status honors select arts organizations for “the quality of their arts services, their stature as arts institutions… or the importance of their contributions to a significant population.”
Saved from the wrecking ball in the 1970s, EOH was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Through community and foundation support, the Opera House on Earlville’s Main Street has gone through a constant process of renewal and upgrading. During Lockwood-Blais’s management more than three quarters of a million dollars worth of capital projects have included work as varied as adding new galleries to repairing the roof. The historic theater is a renowned performance venue for national artists and local entertainers alike.
“Earlville Opera House has grown and prospered under Patti’s tireless leadership,” Ward said. “The positive impact we have on the community is a direct result of Patti’s passion for her work and the friendly warmth she brings to all her interactions with our patrons, artists, and supporters.”
Among the many initiatives undertaken by EOH with Lockwood-Blais as director:
· Worked with county tourism offices, Upstate Institute and other agencies to build audiences;
· Reached out to the community through collaboration with Hamilton Village Concert Series, Cazenovia & Oneida;
· Expanded from one to three galleries, received gallery funding from NYS Council on the Arts, and dramatically increased both the professionalism of the shows and attendance at gallery events;
· Expanded opportunities for regional artists with the use of the Arts Cafe Gallery;
· Developed outreach to kids and teens in KidsArt and TeensArt programs;
· Expanded Holiday show and sale and annual quilt show;
· Sponsored workshops for Hamilton Music Mix, Black History, artists, songwriters, and writers.
“Patti’s leadership has brought the Opera House to new heights of excellence in the arts,” said Ward. “Now that she has decided to pass the baton, we face the challenge of finding someone who can serve the community as well as she has, and bring us in exciting new directions. I am confident the deep well of talent in central New York will yield another special person to take us there.”
Patti Lockwood-Blais will continue in her roles as president of the statewide New York Multi-Arts Center Consortium (NYMACC) and on the advisory board of the New York State Presenters Network.
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