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Islip brokers deal to transfer management of museum

Islip Town officials, who considered eliminating the staff of the Islip Art Museum in townwide layoffs last year, have brokered a deal to transfer management of the museum to the Islip Arts Council, a move the town expects to save taxpayers an estimated $75,000 next year.

The museum, which has been operated and funded by the town, will remain in town-owned Brookwood Hall in East Islip, which also houses the nonprofit Arts Council. The museum features contemporary art by local and international artists.

Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan said the town considered deals with the Arts Council as well as Dowling College in Oakdale. He said the Arts Council was chosen because the council and museum have a history of collaborative projects and occupy the same building.

Under the deal, the town will continue to provide space for the museum and $112,000 to the Arts Council for the museum's operation.

Last year's museum budget totaled $250,000, according to museum director Mary Lou Cohalan, who is to stay on for the first six months of the transition.

The town's plan to eliminate the museum's staff last year sparked protests from the arts community and led the town to cut just one of two full-time staff members and retain part-time staff until a new steward for the museum could be found.

The museum plans to hire two consultants to help chart its future with a $3,000 grant from the New York State Council on the Arts and Museumwise, a nonprofit that supports museums and other heritage organizations in the state.

Lynda A. Moran, executive director of the Islip Arts Council, said plans include expanding the museum's art school to offer music scholarships for talented children whose families can't afford private instruction.

"The idea is to make this building a cultural arts mecca," she said. "I am so excited."

The town board is expected to vote on the deal at its Aug. 17 meeting.

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