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White Plains-Based ArtsWestchester Turns 50

Janet Langsam
Janet Langsam Photo Credit: Cathy Pinsky

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Fabulous at 50 is one way to describe the initiatives going on at ArtsWestchester.

The five-decade-old organization, based in White Plains, recently launched ARTSEE, a cultural festival spanning 70 events throughout the county. For a behind the scenes perspective, we sat down with Janet Langsam, ArtsWestchester chief executive officer, who, in her 23-year tenure, has helped grow the organization into a $3.8 million agency, making the arts more visible, diverse and accessible for all.

Daily Voice: What does it feel like to know ArtsWestchester is 50 years old this year?

Janet Langsam: At 50 years old, ArtsWestchester is one of the most venerable in the nation. That's pretty amazing for an organization that began at someone's kitchen table. It's a tribute to the vision of the founders. My years at the helm has been a privilege. Working with the board and staff, we have increased, diversified and leveraged our funds to meet the needs of a growing cultural sector.

DV: Could you ever have imagined all that you've accomplished as an organization?

JL: ArtsWestchester's role as a funder of arts organizations large and small has become increasingly important as philanthropic dollars have diminished  We work in tandem with Westchester County government to boost the economic impact of the arts in our county.

DV: What would people be surprised to know about ArtsWestchester?

JL : People would be surprised to know that, in addition to its humanistic value, the arts bring to Westchester $156 million in economic benefit and 4,800 jobs. That is huge for a "little engine" industry whose main mission is to enrich lives. Where else does one get such bang for the buck?

DV: Tell us about ARTSEE.

JL: For our 50th anniversary we wanted to shine a light on the arts community with a major festival that features the great work it does. ARTSEE is at its core a festival of new work meaning "first time seen or heard" music, dance, film and visual arts.  We're honored to feature several world premieres and pleased to have some free events for the whole family.

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