Grantee Spotlight: Lake Placid Center for the Arts

Lake Placid is a part of New York State that is known around the world, thanks largely to its hosting of the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980.

But many of those who remember where they were when the U.S. men’s hockey team captured an unlikely gold medal are unaware of the area’s deep artistic roots. The Lake Placid Center for the Arts has been helping establish the arts and culture identity of the area. “It helps make our region unique, contributing to a long legacy of both athletic and artistic achievement,” says Nick Gunn, the LPCA’s marketing director.

The organization is marking its 45th anniversary and for 20 of those years it has received support from NYSCA and the Presenting Program, which nurtures and develops those who present live artistic performance. During the 1970s and ’80s, when the LPCA was a small community organization, it hosted multi-week summer residencies for dance luminaries including Twyla Tharp, Martha Graham and Paul Taylor. In recent years, LPCA has revisited and honored that legacy through return engagements with the same performers, along with up-and-coming dance, theatre, music and circus organizations.

Visitors work with projectors at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts
A member of Manual Cinema, a multimedia art collective, takes LPCA patrons behind-the-scenes. Photo Courtesy of LPCA.

“Through NYSCA’s support, the LPCA has been able to present our community with a wide variety of international artists, in many different mediums, that may otherwise be inaccessible to a small, remote community such as ours,” Gunn says of the village of 2,400 people. “NYSCA’s support also ensures we are able to keep the arts alive within our younger generations. In the last year, we’ve seen more than 6,000 students pass through our doors for workshops that span the wide spectrum of the arts.”

While live performance is at the center of LPCA and the Presenting Program’s mission—as evidenced by a calendar packed with dozens of music shows of genres from bluegrass to mambo—the center also presents shows at its art gallery.

Classes for community members of all ages are another element of LPCA’s work, teaching everything from cheesemaking to ceramics. More than 60 workshops are offered to school children and integrated into curriculae across four counties.

One event held at the start of every winter ties together the region’s arts and sports legacies: the premiere of the latest film from Warren Miller Entertainment. This year’s entry, Line of Descent, is the 68th annual feature. Miller, now 93, is a legend of ski photography and filmmaking who helped cement Lake Placid’s Olympics-worthy reputation among skiers with his early films. He has not been a hands-on director since 2004, but the spirit of his work parallels that of the LPCA, imbuing a winter sport known for snow and gray skies with warmth and artistic energy.

—Dade Hayes

Cover image: Contemporary chamber group, ETHEL, performs at Gallery 46 (Photo 4)