Carnegie Art Center in the midst of an evolution

Mia Summerson/staffBarbara Hughes, president of the Carnegie Art Center's board of directors, addresses the crowd at the 2016  Art Off the Wall event. She recently stepped down from her position with the North Tonawanda art gallery.

North Tonawanda's Carnegie Art Center has undergone a lot of changes recently, and soon, they'll see a change in leadership as well. 

Former Board President Barbara Hughes has stepped down, stating that her time was up and she felt ready to hand the reigns of the CAC over to someone new. She said the board is currently deliberating as to Hughes' replacement and that a decision is expected to be made at their meeting in February. 

"Basically, my term was up and I'm involved in a lot of other things throughout the city," Hughes said. "I thought it was time for somebody new to take on the leadership role." 

Hughes has been at the helm of the Carnegie since it reopened in 2015, following a brief hiatus. Since then, the art center has launched number of successful programs, fundraisers and has completed some significant restoration work on the building, a former public library which was donated to the city by Andrew Carnegie in 1903.

She said they've started on a roof replacement project, which they hope to have finished in the spring or summer, and are working on securing funding to replace the light fixtures, which Hughes noted is particularly important for an art gallery. They're also looking into installing an air conditioning system, which is critical if the gallery wants to expand its summer programming, she said. 

The Carnegie has also hired a pair of staff members: Interim Program Coordinator Natalie Brown and Administrative Assistant Gabrielle Carr. While Carr will run the day-to-day business in the office, Brown will organize shows, performances, classes and other programs. 

"I am pleased to announce we have an exciting lineup of exhibitions and events planned at the Carnegie Art Center in 2019, in addition to educational programming," Brown said. "These exhibitions and events will showcase the Carnegie Art Center as the heart of arts and culture in North Tonawanda."

Some the events coming up include opening receptions for the exhibitions "Bottling Quantities at Night," from Malcolm Bonney, set for 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 7, and the "NT Central School District Student Spotlight 2019," from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 28.

In addition, a concert of traditional Irish museum from Abanalan will kick off at 6:30 p.m. March 1 and the Carnegie will host a Family night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 16.  

Last year, Hughes said that the Carnegie has also collaborated with the North Tonawanda Youth Center to be a part of its summer arts program has also worked with the Boys and Girls Club, which Hughes said was highly successful. 

In addition to renovations and programming, the Carnegie staff is also working to get a certificate of occupancy for the basement floor so the office space can be moved there to allow for additional gallery space on the main floor.

They've also expanded their hours, adding Wednesday to the schedule. The Carnegie's hours are now 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursdays and noon to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 

Brown said the art center is accepting inquiries from community members, artists and non-profits who are interested in using the Carnegie as a exhibition space or for educational activities as well as anyone interested in becoming a CAC member. 

For more information on the Carnegie Art Center, visit them online at carnegieartcenter.org

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