The Hudson Valley is known for its sprawling countryside, quaint rural towns, and as a second home for many New York City residents. Often rural, tourist-driven areas, the local community is left behind. When designing this space, we asked what the local community needed. What sort of space can locals come to browse, find inspiration, and design a space which suits their needs. Through this process, we uncovered a community that is desperate for connection, looking to fulfill a lack of interactive programming, and artists hoping for wider exposure. At first, we considered the space to be a retail venture, with vintage wares to decorate your home, gallery space, and coffee. Over time, with the guidance of the community, we have begun a transition to a full time arts and event space. We slowly integrated community events such as fine arts workshops, book making evening, collective creation evenings, group talks on the creative process, still life drawing, writing groups, and art openings.
Our area is rural: a series of small tourist towns two hours north of New York City. The people who live here are separated by miles and time, but willing to make the drive if it betters their quality of life. We believe we work best with others, that art thrives when ideas are passed in conversation, that art betters our nature and therefore the world. With this in mind, we hope to transform Monolight into a full time hub for the community, where they can come and interact with their creative nature. Beyond programming, Monolight will serve as the key to the rest of the creative Hudson Valley.
We see this transformation unfolding in three phases. The first phase is the actual transformation of the space. To best serve the community as a full time hub for creative minds, we need to supply the community with the tools they use to make their art. Supplies such as small presses, paper, pens, paint, canvas, and more should fill the shelves. We need more comfortable seating, air conditioning for the summer, and a way to support people watching over the space during open hours. We also need a support system to keep the space open and pay our bills such as utilities, internet, and rent. We need a salary to keep focused on making the space run. We also have a Resident Artist program we would like to expand, offering them more space and resources, time to run open studios, and a stipend for material if possible.
The second phase is introducing continuous programming in and out of the space. As mentioned before, we have monthly art openings, still life drawing nights, and writers groups. We want to host more fine art workshops, run artist talks, readings, and more. We are at capacity running about one event a week, but to make this space functional for a diverse community, we would like many disciplines to have space each week in this space. With enough funding, we can keep the space open for the community to utilize throughout the week.
The third phase, would be to eventually create artistic happenings across the Hudson Valley. Rural residents, rich with inspiration but poor in artistic outlets, need opportunity near their home. Especially in an area like the Hudson Valley, we hope to create a series of interactive community arts events across our region. This could look like a life drawing session on a farm or a musical performance in a barn, readings in a silo or a pop up gallery in a fire tower. As we grow, we want to work with emerging artist and arts organizations to make this a reality.
We want this space to work for and with our local community, but to be diverse enough to include programming worthy of tourists and those visiting. The primary public benefit is to provide a space where we can come together to interact, exchange ideas, and work on our creative process and ideas. Spaces like these are slowly disappearing from the public arena. Monolight hopes to serve the community as an alternative to bars and cafes. Our product is inspiration, by providing events and classes to engage, interact, and connect.
To be clear, this space will retain its retail front, while also serving the needs of the local arts community.
Some examples of programming we have already worked on:
Still Chill - A twice monthly still life drawing night. Designed by local artists, a still life will be the centerpiece for each of these nights. Locals can come, enjoy refreshments, meet new people, and spend a couple of hours sketching the still life. We have already seen some success with this event, but would like to expand. With more seating and tools, this night provides a safe space to practice.
The Writer’s Table - A monthly literary arts meeting. This event is a night for writer’s to gather around a table, not only to share their work, but to share writing tips, talk about what they are reading, give prompts, and ultimately interact with other writer’s in what is a sometimes lonely profession.
Art Openings - Our gallery space focuses on emerging Hudson Valley artists. We curate shows based on the ideas around home, place, and being. The openings frequently feature local musicians performing and local food vendors. We hope to create a space where people can interact with art without intimidation.
Workshops - We just hosted our first workshop on how to make a zine, which was in conjunction with a zine exchange event Monolight is cosponsoring.
New programming we would like to see:
Creative Mornings - Hosting small groups of people to come and discuss their own creative process. This is meant to create a support system and accountability.
Study Hall - Quiet, unstructured afternoons at Monolight where you can come work freely on your next project.
Life Drawing Outings - During the warmer months, we would are looking to field trip with groups to remote locations to work on life drawing sessions outdoors.
As well as movie screenings, literary readings, like music performances, and other group outings.
With funding, we can host these events for free, which encourages attendance and spreads our reach.
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