Cooperstown arts organizations the Smithy Center For the Arts and the Cooperstown Art Association have agreed to enter into an affiliation with each other, merging their boards of directors and likely paving the way for additional sharing in the future.

“I think it’s going to be really exciting,” said Janet Erway, director of the CAA. “I think we’ll be able to do more for the community.”

The boards of the Smithy and the CAA agreed to merge in a unanimous vote in a joint-meeting on May 30. The president of the new 14-member board will be Cheryl Wright, who served as president of the CAA’s board before the merger, and Donald Raddatz, who served as the Smithy board’s vice president, will serve in that same capacity on the new board.

Erway said the board will consist of 11 former members of the CAA board and three members of the Smithy board. She said that the reason why there were a smaller number of former Smithy board members on the new board is because the Smithy’s board had been smaller than the CAA’s.

The first meeting of the new board will take place this month.

Still, despite the merger of their management, Erway said that the Smithy and the CAA would remain separate 501 (c) (3) non-profit organizations.

“That would be eliminating both of our histories,” said Erway, on the prospect of the two organizations becoming one.

The CAA has been in existence since 1928, while the Smithy has been around since 1984.

Part of the process that preceded the merger of the boards were two focus groups in March that were hosted jointly by both organizations, to get input on the possibility of the two organizations merging from the community. Erway said that the fondness that community members had for each organization, as well as a concern that a merger would reduce the diversity of art offerings in town were two of the things that were taken away from the meetings.

So it was agreed that, in addition to maintaining the independent status of the Smithy and the CAA, each organization would have a separate art exhibition committee. The locations of the two organizations also will stay the same. The CAA will remain in the village building on 22 Main St., while the Smithy will keep its location on 55 Pioneer St.

Erway said that decisions on the possible sharing of funds and staff were still being ironed out.

“There’s still a lot of decisions to be made at this time,” said Erway.

She did say that the hope was that the two organizations would ultimately be able to engage in interesting collaborations, avoid duplication of services and offer more services to the community.

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