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Building Community Through the Arts

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Spencertown Academy’s Festival of Books offers virtual author talks, book sale

The Berkshire Eagle | October 2, 2021

CHATHAM, N.Y. — Former U.N. staffer Jill Kalotay loves books. So do the 2,000 people and volunteers who attend Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s annual Festival of Books. Too many for the current climate, the 16th festival will spend a second year online.

Kalotay co-chairs the festival, her sixth, with David Highfill, executive editor at HarperCollins imprint William Morrow.

“I’m a reader and book lover,” said Kalotay during a phone interview. “Our family has always been that way. My daughter is a writer and my Hungarian husband is very bookish.”

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‘Whimsy’ an art exhibit meant for escaping troubled times | October 1, 2021

A few years ago, Barbara Lax Kranz, co-chair of the Spencertown Academy Curatorial Committee, had the idea to create an art show that offered a little break from all the bad news. She had no idea how badly people would need that by the time the exhibition finally went up. 

“Long before the pandemic, I decided to do a show on whimsy to give people an escape,” Lax Kranz said recently. “Times were troubling then—little did I know where we would be a year or so later.” 

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Spencertown Academy Meets Capital Campaign Goal | December 16, 2020

SPENCERTOWN — Spencertown Academy Arts Center announces the completion of its three-year $600,000 capital campaign. $500,000 is dedicated to the complete restoration of the outside of its building and $100,000 has been set aside to create a $100,000 reserve fund for the ongoing maintenance. Restoration projects include a new standing seam metal roof, repaired and restored cornice, chimney, clapboard, columns, windows, steps, and fence, along with a new patio and walkways.

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Spencertown Academy Connects History, Future with Virtual Concerts

Times Union | Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Since 1972, a Greek Revival building that was a schoolhouse for the first 123 years of its life has been a community arts center for the Columbia County hamlet of Spencertown (population 175).

The Spencertown Academy suffered significant setbacks after the global financial crisis a dozen years ago, to the point that all paid staff was laid off. Led by a strong board of directors aided by more than 200 volunteers, however, it has rebuilt financially. A capital campaign raised $600,000 for restoration of the building, and work that was expected to be lengthy is nearly complete, well ahead of time. The coronavirus pandemic meant crews didn’t have to stop to accommodate the academy’s normally busy calendar, which by March already had two dozen in-person events slated for the year, with more expected to be added as 2020 progressed.

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Paging All Bibliophiles: Spencertown Academy Festival of Books Goes Online

Chronogram | September 1, 2020

When we headed into summer, no one knew if or how our favorite summer events —performing arts, galleries, annual festivals—were going to survive. Many, if not most of them went online, and so did we. Virtual events work, we learned, and the annual Spencertown Academy Festival of Books, taking that knowledge, has shifted to a virtual festival September 4 through October 12.

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Open Book with Joyce Carol Oates

The Berkshire Eagle | August 28, 2020

Instead of promoting her latest novel, “Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars.,” on a national book tour, author Joyce Carol Oates is spending her summer in one place, her house in Princeton, N.J., working (“mostly on a new novel”) and seeing a few people “at a social distance.”

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Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s 15th Annual Festival Of Books Goes Virtual

WAMC | August 26, 2020

The Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s 15th annual Festival of Books turns Virtual this year. Labor Day weekend and beyond, there will be online conversations with distinguished authors, special book sales, children’s drawing workshops, and even familiar flavors from the Cookbook Café. Get ready to settle into a comfortable chair with your laptop or tablet, and enjoy this beloved cultural event of all things literary, 2020 style. All programs will be on Zoom. Registration is required and free, but limited. 

Listen to the interview.

Uel Wade Scholarship 2020 winners

Hudson Valley 360 | June 17, 2020

For years the annual Uel Wade Scholarship competition has played to a packed audience at the Spencertown Academy.

This year, due to the coronavirus, the young musicians performed in Wade’s big studio with an audience of only three: the judges, Ron Carbone (violist), Eric Latini (trumpeter), and Mitsuko Suzuki (violinist).

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Spencertown festival speaks volumes to the allure of books

Berkshire Eagle | August 31, 2019

Every summer for the past 14 years, the Spencertown Academy Arts Center has been transformed into a mecca of new and gently used books. Beginning in July, nearly 100 volunteers comb through stacks of thousands of donated books in preparation for the annual Festival of Books, a three-day, open-to-the-public event held over Labor Day weekend.

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