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What you need to know for 07/22/2017

Crises leave Hamilton Hill Arts Center searching for answers

Crises leave Hamilton Hill Arts Center searching for answers

The Hamilton Hill Arts Center is facing a triple crisis as it heads into the new year.
Crises leave Hamilton Hill Arts Center searching for answers
A sign on the door of he Hamilton Hill Arts Center on Schenectady Street states it canceled it's activities Friday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

The Hamilton Hill Arts Center is facing a triple crisis as it heads into the new year.

It has no leader. Director Mark Chaires resigned in December.

It has little money, particularly because a federal $14,600 Community Development Block Grant was frozen. The center didn’t meet the eligibility requirements for the grant last year, and has just now rectified the problem.

And it has few plans, relying mainly on volunteers to run programs. Hours have been somewhat sporadic so far this month, with classes canceled occasionally. The center apparently was closed Friday when a volunteer couldn’t make it.

But the little center on Schenectady Street still has a lot of passion.

It is now being run by the executive committee of its board of trustees. Next week, the board will get a report on the center’s finances. After that, board members will start applying for grants, board Chairman Karim Adeen-Hason said.

“We are reviewing everything now,” he said. “Fiscal, operations, funders.”

The board was taken somewhat by surprise when Chaires resigned. Adeen-Hason said Chaires had only agreed to stay for one year, but the board didn’t use that time to search for a permanent leader.

“We had hoped that maybe he would stay,” Adeen-Hason said.

With his resignation, the center closed for the two-week school break.

“That was a godsend for us. We have two weeks to have some meetings, develop a plan of action,” Adeen-Hason said.

The center has a grant to run an after-school program in Troy and is trying to get a grant for Schenectady, too, he said. Donors are also keeping the center afloat.

He also expects the CDBG money to be released soon. To be eligible for that grant, at least 51 percent of the center’s board must be residents of the area. Chaires thought the center could get an exemption, Adeen-Hason said.

“But he was wrong,” Adeen-Hason said.

He’s also hoping volunteers continue to run the programs they ran last year, including a brass band.

“That was real good. I mean, real good,” Adeen-Hason said. “We’re hoping that will continue.”

He also wants to apply for a grant to place a public access television station in the building. He envisions students learning to create their own shows.

He’s worked with other groups on broadcast programs.

“Kids were interviewing people in the careers they were interested in,” he said. “They also learned how to run the cameras, put together the show, everything.”

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