NRCA sponsors both visual and performing arts:
NRCA presents an annual show at the New Rochelle Public Library, as well as three shows a year in the NRCA Rotunda Gallery at City Hall, created in collaboration with the City of New Rochelle. (In 2020 due to the COVID pandemic NRCA pivoted to make the Rotunda Gallery exhibits virtual.) NRCA also co-sponsors other art exhibits — most recently a virtual exhibit with the Iona College Arts Council.
In addition to art exhibits, NRCA has also sponsored significant public art, most recently the spectacular NRNY Murals, 8 works created in November 2019 by world renowned street artists in collaboration with Street Art for Mankind and the City of New Rochelle, as well as seven Pop-Up Libraries created by local artists, and a new sculpture at Ward Acres Community Garden installed in 2019. In October, 2023 NRCA — as lead agency for the Doctorow Legacy Initiative — brought a new work of public art to New Rochelle, a sculpture to honor author E.L. Doctorow, whose novel “Ragtime” was set in this city.
NRCA’s signature annual programming includes the Summer Sounds Concert Series (free weekly concerts at the historic Hudson Park band shell on Long Island Sound) and ArtsFest, a city-wide celebration of artists and arts that takes place every fall, both of which were canceled in 2020 due to COVID. Throughout the year NRCA also sponsors concerts, dance performances, film screenings and spoken work events at various venues around New Rochelle.
NRCA collaborates with other local organizations: For example, NRCA works with Westchester Alliance of Black Educators (WABSE ) to co-sponsor a Black History Month celebration at New Rochelle High School every February. NRCA has also worked with the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence to host bi-annual visits from Oxford University’s a cappella group Out of the Blue, co-sponsoring a public performance as well as a school visit. NRCA also collaborates frequently with the New Rochelle Opera, Songcatchers, and Tutti Bravi , which presents new and original works by local writers (most recently a staged reading of a new play, “Little Rock of the North,” in 2019.) In addition NRCA also acts as the fiscal agent for projects like the Doctorow Legacy Initiative, which is created a permanent memorial to the writer E.L. Doctorow in October 2023.
Every year ArtsFest highlights the variety of arts and arts venues in New Rochelle and Pelham, with art exhibits, programs and family-friendly activities at more than 40 venues that give both visitors and residents alike a window into the city’s rich cultural and artistic diversity. The celebration includes live music and dance performances, film screenings, artist workshops and open studios. Last year COVID derailed ArtsFest, so this year we anticipate that ArtsFest 2021 will be more important than ever, helping our communities “turn the page” after the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic and underlining the role the arts play in creating a sense of community. Major ArtsFest activities will include a free “Arts in Oktoberfest” gallery hop at participating galleries on Friday night, then open artists’ studios, art exhibits, an outdoor music festival, a dance festival with performances in unexpected venues, a classic car show, a spoken word performance, plus assorted activities for all ages on Saturday and Sunday.
SUMMER CONCERT SERIES
It’s become a New Rochelle tradition: Hundreds of picnickers on the grass, enjoying the cooling breezes off Long Island Sound as they listen to live music at the Hudson Park band shell every Wednesday night in July and August. The Summer Sounds Concert Series, created by the New Rochelle Council on the Arts in partnership with the City’s Department of Parks and recreation, brings the sound of music to the Long Island Sound shore with an eclectic menu of musicians performing free concert of everything from mellow jazz to Motown, classical opera to bluegrass, country-and-western to rock, gospel and hip-hop. The free concerts also include free pre-performance yoga sessions, courtesy of the Hudson Park Children’s Greenhouse, and an ever-changing schedule of food trucks offering snacks and meals for sale.
The Summer Sounds Concert Series began in 1997 when Emil Paolucci (1915-2004), a member of the New Rochelle Council on the Arts, began working with the City of New Rochelle on a plan to refurbish the Hudson Park bandshell and introduce free concerts in the park. Today the Summer Sounds Concert Series is produced by the New Rochelle Council on the Arts in partnership with the New Rochelle Department of Parks and Recreation.
The Summer Sounds Concert Series is made possible, in part, by funding from local businesses, including (LIST HERE). In 2016 an anonymous donor provided a $100,000 grant to NRCA that allowed the purchase of a state-of-the-art sound system. In 2018 support from Watermark Pointe and an anonymous donor helped purchase much-needed stage lighting.
NRCA’s Summer Sounds Concert committee issues an RFP for musicians each January and meets in February to review submissions and set the calendar. The committee also solicits sponsorships, organizes food trucks, staffs a welcome booth at each concert and sells raffle tickets to help raise money for the concert series.