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Sad day for the arts as Gibbons set to leave cultural council

Emily Gibbons, director of the Cultural Council of Cortland County, will be staying in Cortland through the fall. In this file photo, she restores a damaged 47-year-old oil painting.

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Emily Gibbons, director of the Cultural Council of Cortland County, will be staying in Cortland through the fall. In this file photo, she restores a damaged 47-year-old oil painting.

Emily Gibbons, the executive director of the Cultural Council of Cortland County, is leaving the post to move to Scranton, Pennsylvania.

“It was a hard job, but a good job,” said Gibbons, 30, of the not-profit that encourages the arts in Cortland County. “I was grateful for the opportunity and I think it’s a great organization. I will be helping out when I can.”

Gibbons, also a painter, photographer and musician, married area man Noah Beck this summer, who just landed a job as head swim coach at Marywood University in Scranton.

Gibbons said she’ll be in Cortland most of the fall while the council’s Board of Directors looks for a replacement.

“We’re just like, we can’t believe it. But of course, we understand,” said Sherry Dans, president of the council’s board. “I love working with Emily. She’s so easy to work with. She’s so positive. She has a lot of great ideas. We’re really going to miss her.”

David Beale, owner of the Picture House and the first director of the Cultural Council of Cortland County, was dismayed to lose Gibbons, also the manager of his shop for the last six years. She also served on the council’s board at one point.

Gibbons became the interim director of the council, which promotes the arts in Cortland County, in January 2015. In January 2016, she became the formal executive director.

The council, with close to 100 members, promotes and sustains arts and culture in Cortland County. It organizes the Cortland First Friday monthly, which promotes artists at area businesses, organizes the Art and Wine Festival held in August, creates exhibits, organizes bus trips to museums and co-sponsors the annual Community Arts Challenge with the Center for the Arts of Homer.
Gibbons oversaw programs, marketing and grant writing as director and worked with the council’s board of directors.

She will be going back and forth between both places and is unsure of her last day.

“It depends on when the board finds a new director,” she said. She will be training the new person. “I will be helping for a couple of months.”

A search committee has been formed to find a new director, a part time post, said Sheila Cohen, long time member of the Board of Directors.

“She’s very collaborative,” Cohen said of Gibbons. “She brought in some grants. She continued with First Friday and helped to bring in more painters for First Friday …. I am really sorry to see her go … I think she was just getting used to the position and was really enthusiastic about it and brought her own touch to it.”

Jim Weiss of Marathon, another cultural board member, said Gibbons was a fantastic resource.
“She has given everything with passion, helping the council grow and be successful. It’s going to be a big gap in our program.”

Gibbons plans to help Beale teach watercolor classes at his workshops, held abroad and across the country.

“It forced me to be organized and talk to people, more than I’m used to,” Gibbons said of the job. “It put me out of my comfort zone. It takes a lot of work to run a non-profit. It takes a lot of volunteers and support from the community.”

Gibbons is looking forward to painting, and will have her own booth at next year’s Cortland Arts and Wine Fest. She will also devote more time to illustrating a book — 40 pages worth — for a relative who has a small publishing company.

“I have been working on it for a while. But it’s hard to fit it in.”