Arts are a Local Industry

 By Shawn Dell Joyce

The Town of Montgomery is quickly becoming an arts-centered town, much like the villages of Sugar Loaf and Warwick. Walden boasts several dance companies, the New Rose Theatre, New York School of Music and several other cultural jewels. The village of Montgomery has a well-established concert series in the Senior Center hosted by Howard Garrett, and now has four galleries including my own nonprofit gallery and art school; the Wallkill River School. We also have James Douglas Gallery and frame shop, next door to Mikey Teutel’s latest venture; “Wolfgang Gallery.”

Unfortunately, we will be losing DiBello Gallery and Frame Shop this month, and I would like to acknowledge the loss it will be to our cultural landscape. Joe DiBello has been an advocate for small businesses in the town, and has worked extensively with the Montgomery Business Association to create a cohesive local business community. DiBello will be closing his doors at the end of this month.

DiBello, and the other cultural fixtures in our community not only add culture, we create economic impact. These small businesses are what give our town local color and local flavor. They are what differentiate us from every other exit on the highway which has the same six chain stores. We bring in tourism for our gallery receptions, and classes, but also, we are a local industry. That means we create (manufacture) products locally generating a multiplier effect.

The Wallkill River School traces our multiplier effect. We measure how much of the money that comes into our hands, gets passed through other local hands before disappearing to some corporate bank vault outside of Orange County. In our case, we partner with a local art supply store (Newburgh Art Supply), we advertise in this newspaper, and work with several local restaurants for catering and events including Wildfire Grill, Ward’s Bridge Inn, Holbert’s Catering, and others. We use a local insurance company, pay rent to local landlords (Devitt Management) and work with local framers like James Douglas Gallery and others.

 Economist and author Michael Shuman notes that “about 42 percent of our economy is “place based,” or created through small, locally-owned businesses.” This means that almost half our economy depends upon small independent businesses that make up the backbone of our hometowns. The key to economic recovery is localization, and reversing globalization. Shuman estimates that we could expand our national economy to be 70 percent local.

Small businesses are our best hope for a stable local economy, and ones that use local products in manufacturing (like art), network with other local businesses (like restaurants), and generate economic impact (like farms) will put our economy back on track. Thanks to Joe DiBello for his service and contribution to our community. Please continue his good work by helping us build the new industry of culture in the Wallkill Valley.

Shawn Dell Joyce is the director of the Wallkill River School and Art Gallery in Montgomery and an award-winning newspaper columnist.

2 Responses to “Arts are a Local Industry”

  1. Nancy C Says:

    Great article and message, SDJ!

  2. Molly Reid Says:

    I applaude this article. It brings to mind arts education in our public schools. With all of the budget cutting required in today’s economy, I wish that this sort of reminder of how the arts enrich our towns (as well as ourselves), would be taken into consideration. I’m sure Ms Joyce could write an excellent article supporting this idea!

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