Who brings the art to Millbrook?

Janice Pendarvis and group performed last summer at the Millbrook Library.

Judith O'Hara Balfe

Who brings the art to Millbrook?

Known to many as horse country, the Village of Millbrook is also home to dairy and other farms, beagles and fox hunting, bucolic scenery and vineyards, as well as a sense of community and a love of arts both audio and visual, the latter two of which the Millbrook Arts Group (MAG) can proudly take a well deserved bow on.

Ann Gifford, MAG’s president, spoke recently about the nonprofit group in which she has long been involved. In fact, Gifford was the attorney that Robert Krall and Stan Morse went to when the idea of needing a group that would seek out entertainment first came up as a result of the Millbrook Band Shell having been built.

Krall was a member of the Lion’s Club, and having traveled extensively to other communities, he noted that many had band shells and provided entertainment to the community. With the help of the local Lion’s Club, the band shell got built, and the need to fill it with music meant that groups had to be found and contracted. Thus, in 1988, MAG was founded and incorporated as a nonprofit.

Over the years since its inception, MAG has brought music to Millbrook’s many venues, including children’s programs, poetry workshops and exhibitions, and has been involved in many art exhibits throughout the years.

One thing Gifford is especially proud of is that MAG collaborates with many other groups, including the Millbrook Library, the Millbrook Central School District, the Millbrook Farmers and Makers Market, and the Millbrook Rotary Club, among others. In 2023 alone, MAG helped with the UpState Art Open Studio Art Festival, the Hudson Valley Flamenco Festival and New Years Eve Millbrook, hiring and paying for the two music groups that entertained; and at least two children’s programs at the Millbrook Library. It sponsored the summer concerts at the band shell, the winter concerts at the library, several groups that performed at the Millbrook Farmers and Makers Market, and Music in the Streets.

All of this costs a lot of money. Gifford said MAG is doing well and is grateful for donations from the Tribute Garden, which has always given generously; a grant from the H.W. Wilson Foundation, most of which supports the library venues and the children’s events; and the estate of Nancy F. Perkins made a noteworthy donation. All other funding comes from local sources. Each May, a letter goes out to residents asking for support. Other means of fundraising include selling 50/50 raffle tickets at the concerts, along with hats and T-shirts.

“My thanks to the community who respond to our [annual fundraising] letter, we have been given so much support with gifts both big and small,” said Gifford. “You know that others appreciate your work, so they want to help. We believe every donation shows an interest in what we do.”

All of the work is done by the 16 members of the MAG board of directors via committees, and they meet in person about eight times per year. The board is composed of people from all walks of life, including businesspeople, educators and artists, although Gifford said that there is currently a large portion of artist volunteers, testimony to the fact that many artists are discovering the Millbrook community and its reverence toward the arts in all forms.

The next offering from MAG will be on Saturday, Feb 24, with the Taghanik String Quartet performing at the Millbrook Library. A reception will take place at 4:30 p.m., with the performance begins at 5 p.m.

From the 2023 Hudson Valley Flamenco Festival, August, at Millbrook Band Shell. Judith O'Hara Balfe

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