Spotlight – Nancy Barno Reynolds

In life, we all have a beginning when our life takes form and we begin to map out our soul’s journey based on our passions.  For Vestal native Dr. Nancy Barno Reynolds, the Executive Director for the Broome County Arts Council, this passion has always been art.  “I was fascinated by the beauty of visual art, always. I feel like I was awed by the talent of others. Viewing bodies of work by artists feels like reading a diary to me.” And so at a young age, her parents nurtured her passion and bought her “how to draw” books as well as a book of paintings by Norman Rockwell. “Art gifts are the ones I remember.  They meant the world to me.”

The world of art carried with Nancy throughout her school years including college, and beyond.  “I used art as a tool to teach, always. When my own children were young, I created with them, for them. We wrote and illustrated books together, we created and painted together. My husband (Dan) loved to draw and paint too, so we exposed the kids (Martin, Meg, Eamon, Cate) to art, music, drama, dance, literary arts – whatever was available.  Eventually, I decided to open a business called The Art School so that I could hire artists, writers, and chefs to teach our family, friends, and community whatever they told me they’d like to try! It was totally community informed, and once a year our faculty did a huge project using art to educate the community.”

Fast forward to the present day and we here in Broome County are thankful for Nancy’s tireless efforts to make this area a premier art destination.  Research shows that there is a link between the quality of life in a community and the arts. “Art provides avenues for economic growth for communities by inviting travelers “in” to communities they may not have considered visiting or learning about.”  Under Nancy’s direction, the BCAC has expanded not only its mission statement which has always been to support and promote the arts in order to create a vibrant cultural atmosphere but to now also include the words‘ serve, preserve, and transform’.  “We found new ways to serve the community, including by adding regular free programming, expanding our membership to children, families, and non-arts partners, and restructuring our website to be very user-friendly and self-intuitive.  We have worked diligently at raising funds to preserve  existing  arts organizations and promote new art projects in the community through our annual United Cultural Fund Campaign, and we are actively pairing with other entities to transform the community through art (for instance, pairing with the County for the iDistrict Murals and Mosaics project, which will put 28 new murals in three Innovation Districts in the next 4 years: JC, Endicott, and Binghamton). We also created the first-ever Broome Art Trail, a weekend of open studios across the County, which was very transformative and exciting. This will be an annual event.”

Nancy’s efforts to make a positive imprint on this area have taken notice across NYS and even into other states.  Nancy’s motto is “do the most you can in the place you’re at” and she has been living up to that motto every day.