Introducing our new Executive Director!

Big News and Mixed Emotions!
Amy Helfand, our Executive Director, will be leaving us in March to spend more time with her family. We will miss her! In her time at the helm of The Centre, Amy presided over two stellar seasons, booking more than two dozen amazing performers from near and far; launched the Songbird Sessions series of free family events and initiated the successful “dinner before the show” experience. Behind the scenes, she led the Centre through a formal strategic planning process and spearheaded our branding and website redesign and a technology overhaul that streamlined many operational processes, maximizing the WKC’s human (and financial!) resources. She successfully pursued a number of new funding opportunities, including procuring a grant from Preserve NYS that will likely lead to significant preservation efforts for our historic building. With her colleagues and our committed Board of Directors, she worked enthusiastically and diligently to honor the history of the WKC and ensure that it remains vital, relevant, and healthy in a community that is growing and changing.

The flip side of this change is that we’re excited to welcome our new ED, Patrick Barnes, to the WKC team! Patrick grew up in Stamford, NY and attended Stamford Central School, graduating in 2008. During high school, he served as a West Kortright Centre Junior Board Member, helping to book singer-songwriter Amos Lee. He then attended Ithaca College, majoring in Photography and minoring in Art History; lived in Philadelphia, where he ran a digital fine art printing studio; then moved to New Orleans to pursue a Master’s degree in Arts Administration, which he received in 2018. For the past four years, Patrick has worked at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in Louisiana.

Here, Patrick reflects on his journey from The WKC, to New Orleans, and back:

“I am so thankful for New Orleans and the incredible community and cultural exposure it has afforded me, but living here has only crystallized my desire to advance the arts in my own hometown. Upstate New York, and culture bearers like the West Kortright Centre, gave me so much growing up, and I am honored, humbled, and beyond thrilled to be coming home to continue that legacy.

One of the reasons I felt compelled to pursue a Masters in Arts Administration was the importance of my interaction with the arts growing up, namely at places like the West Kortright Centre. The performances I saw at The WKC as a kid and teenager still loom large in my memory, and were integral in shaping the person I became. As a kid growing up in the Catskills, it was an awesome privilege to see these luminaries – Greg Brown, Colin Hay, Leon Redbone, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Holmes Brothers, and the list goes on – grace the stage of the WKC. I owe a debt of gratitude to my community for providing me these experiences, but also for creating a uniquely Catskills space in which we could all come together and celebrate the arts.”