East End Arts at 50: The organization looks to the future honoring its history


When Wendy Weiss returned to the East End at the end of 2019 after 15 years, she knew she wanted to get involved with a local organization to reintroduce herself to the community.

After joining East End Arts as a board member in late February 2020, she was so enamored with what the organization was doing that she left her stable, well-paying job in Boston to join the organization on time. full last March. Ms. Weiss is now the creative director of the association.

“I guess I’m a bit of a statistic being part of the ‘big quit,'” Ms. Weiss said. “I had just started to fall in love with the team here and all that East End Arts stood for.”

East End Arts will celebrate its 50th anniversary on August 18 with a summer party at its Main Street campus in Riverhead. There will be a selection of live entertainment, a curated art sale, East End wines and beers, a silent auction and more.

The regional multi-arts center has served the five East End cities since 1972. According to its website, the organization “strives to cultivate and nurture a vibrant arts community in the East End of Long Island” through its numerous programs and exhibitions.

Each year, East End Arts presents 22 gallery exhibitions to showcase local talent and offers more than 150 educational programs in art, music and theater, as well as private music lessons, professional development and resources for emerging and established artists, according to the website.

Some of AEE’s most prominent programs are the Teeny Awards, the annual “Detour” exhibit, which showcases the work of more than 16 local artists, and the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Portrait Project, for n’ cite just a few. The large mosaic of portraits by local high school art students known as the Dr. Martin Luther King Project, after being displayed at the corresponding participating high schools, is displayed in a public gallery and then auctioned off to support the fund scholarships from the EEA for art and music students. in need.

The organisation’s director of education, Katherine Dwyer Ruscick, said she wanted to raise awareness of the EEA scholarship fund so that more children in the community could benefit from it.

“I would love to empty the scholarships and then fill them again,” she said. “It’s silly to withhold that money. I’d rather give it up and let these kids take advantage of [our] after school [programs]our Saturday programs, some of our camps, we have college prep crash courses for portfolio building…we have so much to offer.

The EEA has programs for people of all ages and interests in the arts. For a full list of their programming and classes and to register, visit eastendarts.org.

When EEA Executive Director Diane Burke joined the organization three years ago, she saw all the great programs on offer, but felt that all the programs were siloed, and it was her dream to bring them together. under the aegis of the EEA.

“When I got here, I could feel it,” Ms Burke said. “I could feel the programs in their own buckets and me sitting in that chair trying to put my arms around them all and get them in, but it was really about putting the right team together that was open to collapse. these walls and working together and I think that’s how the dream came true,” she said.

Ms Burke recalled that when she first started working at the EEA she was financially struggling and “nearly broke”, but now the organization is stable. She thanks Ms. Weiss and the rest of the team there for being able to look ahead.

“Looking back, where we are now … we have regained our shine,” Ms Burke said.

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