BEACON, NY— Last year, Dia in Beacon was host to approximately 85,000 visitors, and the museum’s growing popularity has put its host city on the map as an upstate getaway for those seeking a dose of culture in the Hudson Valley. Beacon’s increasingly hip reputation has also been bolstered by BeaconArts, a non-profit organization created with the intention of promoting the city as a place for creative-types to visit, work, and move to.
The organization was started ten years ago by a group of artists and arts-related business owners.
“We knew that there was an artist community in Beacon then, but it didn’t have a way of really showing itself,” says BeaconArts President Dan Rigney. “We knew that there were individual artists, makers, and people who would be interested in having creative businesses in Beacon, possibly opening galleries, or maybe even setting up their graphic design businesses here. One of the great things about Beacon is that it’s a place where artists can actually afford to own a home, make work, and raise a family without worrying about their loft going condo because they actually own their home.”
So, how exactly does BeaconArts promote the city as an arts and culture destination? Individuals and businesses pay a yearly (or quarterly) fee to become a BeaconArts member. The organization then uses that money to promote the town through print and radio ads, and through the distribution of a map which lists all of BeaconArts’ members.
“We do things like the Dutchess County tourism guide, we’ve done advertising on WAMC,” says Rigney. “Advertising gets expensive for an individual artist. Small artists in Beacon likely can’t spend that money, but we can spend that money, and they can receive the benefit of the increased attention and foot traffic. When we began, there weren’t really that many businesses, but I’m happy to report that at this stage, we actually have over 80 Main Street businesses as members, along with about 180 individual members of the community.”
In its role as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, BeaconArts also helps artists bring their ideas to life.
“Artists don’t need to go out and form their own non-profit, because we already have one,” says Rigney. “They can come to us, and we can basically take care of the back end of things. We’re doing all of the things that need to be done to make a project good with the IRS by monitoring the administrative side of things.”
With BeaconArts handling the paperwork, artists are then free to concentrate on raising funds, promoting their ideas, and most importantly, making art.
“We’re not a chamber of commerce, and we don’t want to be, Rigney says. “We were created specifically to promote and build a creative community. It’s not just a tourism economy here. I believe that we have helped bring creative people’s attention to Beacon.”
This feature is part of the Hudson Valley Pollinator Series, a tribute to the individuals and businesses that are forging the way to a more resilient and self-reliant economy through their boldness, innovation, and continued care for the people and environment around them.