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Awards of Distinction Finalist Spotlight: Arts

Date Published: August 30, 2021

Congratulations to the Arts Award of Distinction Finalists!

Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie
Bridge Music, Mid-Hudson Bridge, Poughkeepsie
Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, Tivoli

Arts Award of Distinction Header Image

The Arts Award of Distinction recognizes businesses and organizations that provide phenomenal and innovative offerings to visitors and contribute to a “Storied Experience” for travelers coming to Dutchess. Join Dutchess Tourism in celebrating all the honorees at the 8th annual Dutchess Tourism Awards of Distinction on Thursday, November 4, 2021, at Locust Grove Estate in Poughkeepsie. Read more about the event here.

We chatted with Bridge Music President Joseph Bertolozzi, Kaatsbaan Cultural Park Chief Executive & Artistic Officer Sonja Kostich and Barrett Art Center Executive Director Joanna Frang to learn more about each finalist.

What about your business/organization inspires you?

Joseph Bertolozzi, Bridge Music: Using the actual sampled sounds of the Mid-Hudson Bridge and having the river and surrounding mountains as my theater within which to bring the Bridge Music installation to the public was mightily inspiring.

Sonja Kostich, Kaatsbaan Cultural Park: Our mission, our people, and our potential. Kaatsbaan Cultural Park’s mission is to provide an extraordinary environment for cultural innovation and excellence. As both an incubator for creativity and as a presenter of diverse world-class artists in dance, theater, music, film, poetry, culinary and visual arts, we strive to be inclusive of artists from all genres. Situated on 153 Hudson River-adjacent acres, artists come to Kaatsbaan to create and collaborate on their most ambitious projects, free of urban facilities’ space and time constraints, allowing for exciting levels of artistic exploration, creative action, and achievement – just two hours north of New York City. Many of these projects premiere in NYC at venues like Lincoln Center, The Joyce Theater, and BAM – or travel to countries and theaters around the world – with the “created at Kaatsbaan in Tivoli, NY” mention traveling with them.

I believe what makes an organization great are its people and am inspired by the people who make Kaatsbaan – including our new staff, board, junior board, and advisory board; the engagement of new supporters, the development of new partnerships with other non-profit and for-profit companies; and of course, the incomparable artists themselves, who shape our vision for programming. Each one of these individuals has been giving their talents, their time, and their resources to help Kaatsbaan begin to realize its fullest potential over the course of the last couple of years. I am so grateful for our remarkable and growing community.

Joanna Frang, Barrett Art Center: I love being able to connect great art and artists with Hudson Valley residents and visitors. Looking at and talking about artwork makes for deeper conversations, and conversations in the gallery always leave me inspired.

What has this past year dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic taught you about the resiliency of your business/organization and staff?

Joseph Bertolozzi, Bridge Music: Bridge Music is free and open to the public in two forms: The Park Radio operates 365/24/7 on 95.3FM in Waryas Park with very little need for day-to-day maintenance and was continuously running during the pandemic.  The Listening Station on the bridge itself operates from April through October. It was mounted on time by my partner, the New York State Bridge Authority, and we continued to receive 4 and 5-star positive reviews from visitors on Google Maps. So, we delivered this attraction with no break in service, though social media posts did caution visitors to be safe and follow distancing protocols.

Sonja Kostich, Kaatsbaan Cultural Park: The pandemic revealed that resiliency partnered with innovative thinking can lead to something wonderfully new and unexpected. Despite the many challenges, the pandemic provided an opportunity to reinvent the organization, discover newfound growth, and connect to our community through inventive and relevant programming. I am so incredibly proud of our small but mighty staff, who never once stopped working throughout the pandemic, and instead brought Kaatsbaan to unprecedented success – artistically, financially, operationally, reputationally. The pandemic also showed that the work that Kaatsbaan is doing is needed. We were able to provide thousands of artists a place to continue working, creating, and connecting, as well as providing a safe place for thousands of audience members and guests to come together and share in their love for live performances, arts, and culture – at a time when much of the rest of the art world had to shut down.

Joanna Frang, Barrett Art Center: Through the pandemic, we were inspired by artists' and art lovers’ positive responses to every new virtual and hybrid initiative we introduced. Barrett@home offered online exhibitions, virtual arts education classes, and illustrated talks by artists from across the country.  Exhibitions and education are at the core of our mission and the overwhelmingly positive response to each new show or program kept us going.

What are your hopes for the future of travel in Dutchess County?

Joseph Bertolozzi, Bridge Music: That visitors who come for one destination take advantage of the many other rich offerings so close by. Whether it’s art, history, outdoor activities, or dining, committing one’s travel plans to Dutchess County yields so much in added value.

Sonja Kostich, Kaatsbaan Cultural Park: Having lived in five countries and over ten cities, Dutchess County proves to be one of the most ideal places to live, work, and visit – and I believe that Dutchess County is on its way to becoming a worldwide destination – known for its natural beauty, food, and culture. And with that, Kaatsbaan is working to be part of what brings people to Dutchess County – to be a cultural hub of innovation and activity that inspires and supports growth for artists across disciplines as well as providing a cultural park for our surrounding communities and visitors with programming that is engaging and inspiring.

Joanna Frang, Barrett Art Center: We’re excited to see the vibrant arts scene grow as a major attraction for visitors to Dutchess County and promote the smart growth of the region’s economy.

Photo Credit (Left to Right): Bridge Music Listening Station by Ed Thompson; Kaatsbaan Cultural Center; Barrett Art Center

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