Throughout its history the City of New Rochelle has attracted and nurtured individuals responsible for shaping the cultural and artistic fabric of America. The New Rochelle Council on the Arts (NRCA) was created in 1975 by the New Rochelle City Council to stimulate and encourage the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and to increase and expand the public’s interest and participation in the arts. To that end the NRCA has sponsored an array of art exhibitions, theatrical productions, dance recitals, film screenings, lectures, concert series and festivals over the last four decades, contributing to a richer and more vibrant arts community in New Rochelle and lower Westchester: This timeline features just a few of NRCA’s high points over the last 40 years.
1975 – The New Rochelle City Council creates the New Rochelle Council on the Arts. Original members are Robert Rosenbaum (President), Rubie Saunders (Secretary), Ruth Kitchen, Bernard Livingston, and Ellsworth Wright.
1977 – Publication of New Rochelle Heritage Calendar with sketches of local landmarks.
1981 – NRCA organizes a show of original works by Norman Rockwell — who lived and worked for a number of years in New Rochelle; events included a Costume Ball based on Rockwell cover characters.
1982 – An exhibition of original cels and other art from Terrytoons, which had its home in New Rochelle. Programming included education about the creation of cartoon films.
1984 – An historical exhibition in honor of Black History Month featured some 200 photographs of the first African Americans in New Rochelle.
1984 – What Makes Us Laugh,a month-long exhibition of original cartoon work on loan from the Museum of Cartoon Art includes such historic cartoon strips as the Toonerville Trolley, which had its origins in New Rochelle.
1988 – A major celebration of the work of artist/sculptor Frederic Remington, who made his home in New Rochelle for a number of years, featured over 20 original works by the artist.
1989-1997 – A series of one-man and group shows of original works by both world-famous and local artists were held, including photography exhibits, student art exhibits, and a weekend long festival celebrating Three Hundred Years of Blacks and New Rochelle.
1998 – Vintage New York celebrated the centennial of the joining of New York City’s five boroughs in to one great metropolis; the show traveled to other venues in Westchester County and New York State.
2001 – A spring art festival was held in the newly created public park, Library Green; that fall NRCA focused on Fabulous Fakes, a special exhibition on the subject of art forgery.
2005 – NRCA publishes its Directory of New Rochelle Artists, Writers, Musicians and Performers for the community containing over 300 individuals in the arts.
2006 – NRCA’s spring exhibit featured over 60 limited edition 3-D creations and other art by the internationally famous Charles Fazzino.
2007 – Music Makers of New Rochelle featured composers of popular music who were residents of the city, including Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast), Jerry Bock (Fiddler on the Roof), Robert Allen (Home for the Holidays, Chances Are). The exhibit also celebrated Glen Island Casino, where the big bands of Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman performed shows that were broadcast coast-to-coast.
2008 – NRCA launched its website, www.newrochellearts.org, and co-sponsored an African American Writers’ Symposium as well as Ragtime in New Rochelle, an original exhibit featuring items on loan from author E.L. Doctorow . In October NRCA organized “Clay Fest” and held the Clay Pot Buffet, a fundraiser that honored actress Ruby Dee.
2009 – NRCA’s Summer Concert Series expanded to include Sunday in the Park With Sousa featuring a brass quintet and a barbershop quartet. “ArtsFest” made its debut with 14 and “Steal Away”, a mural by Jeff Schlanger, became the first in a planned series of outdoor murals.
2010 – NRCA sponsored the first Sound Shore Shakespeare Festival and partnered with the Dance Theatre of Harlem to create an original exhibit Harlem? Harlem! The Dance Theatre of Harlem 1969-2010. which celebrated the history of DTH and included a summer film festival and live performances by the DTH company.
2011 – NRCA continued its Public Art initiative by co-sponsoring a competition to create fabric banners for the main library’s refurbished lobby; another public art project, The Meeting Place – a mosaic tile bench at the Ward Acres Community Garden, was initiated.
2012 – The Rotunda Gallery was created at City Hall, providing another space for artists to exhibit their work.
2013 – “ FREEDOM! – A 150-Year Commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation” was the theme of an exhibit at the Rotunda Gallery. NRCA also facilitated the creation of a mural on North Avenue designed by students from New Rochelle High School and helped celebrate New Rochelle’s 325th anniversary, collaborating with the City of New Rochelle and the BID to create the Fleur-de-Lis Parade, a series of five-foot- tall fiberglass sculptures, each individually decorated by a local artist.
2014 – Combining the talents of more than 90 musicians, singers, set designers and costume artists, NRCA collaborated with Sound Shore Chorale, Songcatchers and Tutti Bravi Productions to produce Noah’s Flood, a one-act children’s opera created by music legend Sir Benjamin Britten.
2015 – Four exhibits at the Rotunda Gallery; Happy Birthday to Us retrospective art exhibit at NRPL; created a series of “Arts Encounters”, free pop-up performances of music, dance and spoken word at unexpected venues and Dance En Plein Air, free dance performances on Library Green every Saturday; supported artist Patrick Bancel aka Billboards Hacker new mural on Huguenot Street; sponsored the New Rochelle Jazz Festival , 8th annual Emil Paolucci Summer Sounds Concert Series at Hudson Park Bandshell; 7th annual ArtsFest 2015 with nearly 40 participating artists and venues; Lush Life 40th Anniversary Gala
2019 – Installation of six Pop-Up Libraries throughout New Rochelle, a collaboration with My Brothers Keeper New Rochelle and the Dept. of Parks and Recreation. At the Rotunda Gallery: The Photography of Frank Stewart February-April; Eye of the Beholder, May-July;
2020 – Black History Month celebration at New Rochelle High School in collaboration with WABSE; Women’s History Month Notable Women of New Rochelle exhibit at the New Rochelle Public Library. After March 13th public events in New York state were canceled due to COVID-19, but NRCA pivoted to virtual art exhibits: The Rotunda Gallery featured Black and White:The Absence of Color in May, See Me: A Celebration of LGBTQ Life in June, NRCA also co-sponsored Unapologetically Me: A Response by Alvin Clayton with the Iona College Council on the Arts.
2021 – Rotunda Gallery exhibits included A Retrospective of the Lincoln Avenue Corridor through January; Struggle – An Exhibit of Our Times from February through April; Juneteenth: A Narrative of Freedom through June and Turning A New Leaf through November 16. March: Installation of Charles Fazzino’s Pop-Up Library at the New Rochelle Train Station. Spring: Call for Writers in collaboration with Tutti Bravi Productions to create an original work, The Motherlode: Hidden Gems of Westchester. July: Provided arts enrichment for Parks & Recreation’s Summer Fun Camp, with programs featuring teaching artists from a variety of disciplines. August: Summer Sounds Concert Series, featuring Lawn Chair Shakespeare Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Queen (a mash up of A Midsummer Night’s Dreamand the music of Queen), then four concerts each on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons. September: NRCA co-sponsored Sunday in the Park, a spoken word event at Hudson Park featuring original short plays by members of The Supporting Characters, a group of local playwrights and actors. October: ArtsFest returned, with 36 venues featuring the work of more than 150 visual and performing artists. NRCA also created an RFP for a new work of public art with Monarch Assisted Living Residence.