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St. Lawrence County Arts Council plans Potsdam gallery

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POTSDAM — A new art gallery in Clarkson University’s Old Snell Hall will attract renowned artists from the region, the country and the world if the St. Lawrence County Arts Council’s plans for the next few years come together.

The council is in much better financial shape now than it was a year ago, according to council Director Rebekah L.Wilkins-Pepiton. It has received grants from multiple organizations. Shutting down retail space and the gallery on Market Street in September and moving to Snell Hall is expected to save about $12,000 a year.

“We feel we’re in a really good place this year, much better than we were at this time last year,” Ms. Wilkins-Pepiton said.

The location change and other factors also led to a partnership with the North Country Children’s Museum to create the Regional Arts and Interactive Learning, or RAIL, program.

“We spent a lot of time talking and working together in 2013, and just realized that we had a lot of shared goals and shared vision for the community and the region,” Ms. Wilkins-Pepiton said. “It just became a sort of natural ally position.”

The two organizations will share their space in Snell Hall. The museum will develop permanent exhibits, and the Arts Council plans to create more artist studios on the second floor while turning the first into a full-fledged gallery.

This gallery will showcase regional artists, but Ms. Wilkins-Pepiton said she hopes it also will house traveling exhibits by nationally and internationally recognized artists.

On the second floor, the council will double the number of studios, adding four, along with a new workshop teaching space.

The state recently announced a $92,000 grant for RAIL to develop an online education program. The Arts Council will use its portion of the funds to help train artists and artisans to use websites and social media to promote their work.

There is no firm timetable for these improvements, and things are still in the very early stages, Ms. Wilkins-Pepiton said. The online education programs will be implemented this year, and the council is working with several sources to secure funding for the gallery and new studios.

“Our hope is that in the next two years we’ll start to see this really happen,” she said.

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