Monday, January 16 2012 10:38
East End Arts celebrated its 40th anniversary Sunday afternoon with a brunch and a party at its gallery in downtown Riverhead.
About 75 people filled the gallery, which was decked out with blue and purple balloons and birthday cards from supporters across the East End, to commemorate the success and survival of East End Arts at a time when most other non-profit organizations have been struggling.
"Just being able to stay around and survive what's been going on for the past 40 years is tremendous," said Jim Lennon, vice president of East End Arts' board of directors. "I can't think of something that is as affordable and as culturally rich on all of Eastern Long Island."
New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele attended the party to present two proclamations from himself and from Senator Ken Lavalle respectively honoring East End Arts' anniversary. "The arts enrich our lives in so many ways," said Thiele, "but people sometimes don't remember how important they are to our local community, both culturally and economically.
"In politics, this is kind of our way of giving you a birthday card," Thiele said to laughter as he presented the proclamations to a beaming Pat Snyder, who is the executive director of East End Arts.
"The turn-out today is testament to how important East End Arts is to eastern Long Island," said Snyder. "If you read some of the cards here, you can see how glad people are that we're here."
The celebration featured a dance performance by the Neo-Political Cowgirls, who accommodated their usual outdoor ZIMA winter walk to fit inside East End Arts' indoor gallery. The silent dancers interacted with the audience, popping balloons and striking poses. One woman emerged from a door every few minutes to sing "Greensleeves."
When they weren't being entertained by the dancers, the partygoers enjoyed music played on the piano by Andrew Wargo.
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Peter Blasl.