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Islip leaders, arts council stage accord

Theater students perform at the Teeny Awards, held

Theater students perform at the Teeny Awards, held by the Islip Arts Council for 10 years and patterned after the Tony Awards. Credit: Gerard (2012)

Given the drama between Islip's town board and town arts council that flared during the summer, it would have been hard to envision a holiday reception for town board members that served as an arts council fundraiser.

But Islip Town Republican Party chairman Frank Tantone organized a festive gala in the ballroom of Brookwood Hall Wednesday night that was meant to celebrate the service of council members Steve Flotteron and Trish Bergin Weichbrodt.

Proceeds from the $50 ticket price went to the Islip Arts Council, which its director, Lynda A. Moran, said raised $2,500 and received pledges of at least $500 more in donations.

Fifty to 60 people attended from the local arts and political scenes, including local composer J.K. Hodge, who played piano, and Suffolk Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-East Islip), Assemb. Alfred Graf (R-Holbrook) and 7th District assemblyman-elect Andrew Garbarino, also a Republican. The Islip Town Board attended, minus Councilman John Cochrane.

Moran said she was "very pleased with the turnout, very pleased with the reception and the mixed group of people."

Tantone said he conceived the reception as "a private/public sector kind of collaborative [effort] to try to raise some money for a group whose funding was cut. It's the two groups trying to do something good."

Tensions between the two groups ran high this summer after the town board announced that, because of a projected $26 million budget deficit, they would completely cut the previous $112,000 annual funding for the council and would remove it from its home and exhibition space in Brookwood Hall.

The situation escalated when an anonymous flier mocking Bergin Weichbrodt and Councilman Anthony Senft surfaced at a local art festival in August.

But after Moran met privately with town board members to ask for a compromise of reduced funding, the groups reconciled, Moran said. In 2013, the arts council will stay in Brookwood Hall, though occupying less space, and will receive $50,000 from the town.

"I really hope this will open doors for more public/private partnerships aligning the arts community with governmental agencies, corporations and foundations," Moran said.

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