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Riverhead arts group gets $200G from bank

Pat Snyder, executive director of the East End

Pat Snyder, executive director of the East End Arts Council, takes measurements on the windows of a vacant Riverhead store whee Long Island artists will display their works, starting May 22. (April 29, 2010) Credit: Doug Kuntz

East End Arts in Riverhead has been working to spread its influence across Long Island’s North and South forks. That work has been rewarded with a $200,000 grant from Bank of America, which designated the agency a Neighborhood Builder — one of about 90 in the nation to get the award each year.

The group, which this year changed its name from the East End Arts Council, will receive $100,000 a year for the next two years. The agency operates with a $1-million annual budget.

“They [Bank of America] look at the importance of the arts in developing a community,” said East End Arts executive director Pat Snyder.

The 40-year-old agency has expanded beyond its original role as a showcase for local artists in downtown Riverhead. Its Winterfest Jazz on the Vine series brings thousands of people to wineries in the off-season.

Its Teeny awards recognize East End high school students who take part in theater programs. And its adjoining art school offers a variety of classes to 500 students a year.

East End Arts also sponsors the annual street-painting fair in downtown Riverhead, as well as the downtown Riverhead holiday window decoration contest aimed at brightening vacant Main Street buildings.

Snyder said the money will be used to upgrade the group’s computers and website, and expand its staff.

“We’ve been hovering on the brink of being really substantial,” she said. “This will help us get to the next level."

Photo: Pat Snyder, executive director of East End Arts, takes measurements of the windows of a vacant Riverhead store for local artists to display their work last year.

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