| Times Herald-Record
CITY OF NEWBURGH – A historic study underway in Newburgh seeks to pull elements of the city’s diverse arts and culture community together by shedding light on what the city has to offer.
“One of the biggest hurdles and one of the biggest findings is that awareness about arts activities is far, far, far too limited,” said Russell Ger. “And our ability to transcend our own networks is also limited. So some kind of centralized network would be extremely useful.”
The Newburgh Arts and Cultural Study has been gathering data all summer through focus groups, a community-wide survey and interviews to develop a full picture and inventory of the city’s cultural niche.
It will have its fourth and final virtual community workshop on Tuesday that will be open to anyone in Newburgh.
Lord Cultural Resources, a consulting group working with the study, will share initial findings during The Summit on Dec. 5, and a final report before the end of the year, according to project manager Naomi Hersson-Ringskog.
Ger, an Australian native and leader of the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra, is one of several local advisers helping to guide the study. Each adviser represents a different element of the city’s arts and culture.
Another adviser, Juana Rocha, who immigrated to Newburgh from Mexico in the 1990s, is conducting outreach to the city’s vibrant Hispanic and Latino community.
“I’m trying just to find out who is there, who has something to share,” Rocha said. “That’s my work, to reach out to the community, and reach out to the artists, to the restaurants, and show the food, the art, the culture.”
She pointed out the variety of Hispanic restaurants in Newburgh that specialize in the authentic Honduras, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico cuisines, to name a few. Some of the chefs bring with them traditional recipes and foods from their home country that otherwise would not be available here.
“This Newburgh Cultural and Arts Study will help us to understand us better. It will help us to express,” Rocha said during an interview on Tuesday. “I think a lot of people think just the same thing, but don’t know how to express.”
Ger also referred to the arts as a way for a community to reflect in on itself and understand the city’s identity.
“The arts promote one of the most fundamental skill sets that are required to live in a civil society, which is understanding your fellow humans and being able to identify with someone who isn’t yourself,” Ger said.
But before that level understanding can take place, a greater awareness of what the city has to offer is needed, creating connections between the silos independent artists and organizations are currently operating in.
“What are now quite separate networks, if they are integrated and we’re able to communicate and can share databases, and therefore broaden all of our exposure, then all of that speaks to a very healthy and vibrant cultural life for Newburgh,” Ger said.