Teresa Verraes

Teresa Verraes

Merger aims to expand Jefferson County arts

Northwind Arts Center, Port Townsend School of the Arts combine forces

PORT TOWNSEND — A new collaboration aims to expand opportunities for artists of all ages and skill levels.

The Northwind Arts Center and Port Townsend School of the Arts (PtSA) will merge into Northwind Art on Jan. 1 with Teresa Verraes, the current executive director of PtSA, leading Northwind Art and Michael D’Alessandro, current executive director of Northwind Arts Center, continuing in a management role.

Between now and then, the focus will be on “strategic planning, building infrastructure and capacity to address the current crises and move confidently forward into 2021 and beyond,” according to a press release.

“The new organization is founded on the belief that art and culture will fuel the county’s future economy,” the release said.

Verraes said that “a silver lining” of the COVID-19 pandemic “is having the opportunity to see clearly how vital and vibrant the arts are here and how dependent we are on them.

“It has shone a light on what we have and what we need to do to ensure the survival of our arts community. We have united to better support and grow arts and culture in Jefferson County,” she said in the release.

Michael D’Alessandro

Michael D’Alessandro

Said D’Alessandro: “The new organization, Northwind Art, will continue to provide the community with what PtSA and Northwind Arts Center each currently does well — education and exhibits.”

D’Alessandro said the new entity will provide “an artist support network that will grow opportunities for artists, including entrepreneurial and philanthropic avenues, as well as tools and training — much like an Artist Trust for our region.”

Northwind Art’s first fundraiser will be an online auction of original works of art, jewelry, wearables and gift baskets. Bidding will open Nov. 23 and close Dec.6 with a virtual gala.

“Weave it Together” will raise funds for new technology, scholarships and expanded programs, according to the release.

To buy tickets or for more information, go to NorthwindArt.org.

The nonprofit organization aims to expand education, with a major initiative to increase online support for both remote and in-person learning; sponsor exhibitions in the two locations as well as through community partnerships; and put into effect a program called Artist Advancement, to help artists expand their markets, learn new skills and increase their incomes, the release said.

Verraes said the name of the new organization is founded in local indigenous and marine cultures.

“This place is where wind meets land and sea, where motion propels creativity,” she said.

She added: “We can’t do this alone — we have all witnessed the impact of the pandemic.

“The future of our arts community depends on our ability — and will — to get through the current crises and to address new challenges with creativity and verve.”

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