In 1981, Port Chester’s then Mayor Peter Iasillo appointed a committee of artists to head what was named the Port Chester Council for the Arts. The new organization quickly organized the first Byram River Arts Festival at the Port Chester Marina, which became an annual event for 10 years and an Historic Homes bus tour. Camille Linen served as the executive director until she became the education/art director, and Denise Colangelo became the executive director.
Significant contributions by the Port Chester Council for the Arts include:
- A Summer ArtsCamp that continues today
- KinderArt, the first artist-in-residency program in all Port Chester public elementary schools that has evolved into the Literacy Through the Arts program for grades K-5.
- The Children’s Art Workshop in all Port Chester elementary schools
- The first all-day kindergarten in the Port Chester school district at Park Avenue School run by the PCCFA, funded by New York State. Within two years, all-day kindergarten expanded to all Port Chester elementary schools due to the success of the PCCFA’s pilot program.
- First daily after-school programs at all Port Chester elementary schools. After 30 years, the PCCFA now serves as a partner with the Port Chester public schools after school program, providing artists and the arts-based curriculum.
- An adult theatre program at the request of the Port Chester Recreation Department with productions presented in the fall, winter and summer.
- NATIONAL ARTS in the School Day to promote the importance of using the arts as an educational tool across all curricula.
- The Rye Town Community Band, which brings together musicians of all skill levels and ages to share their love of music.
- LawnChair Theatre, which performed a Shakespeare play every summer for 10 years in parks throughout Westchester County.
- ART10573, a revival of the Byram River Arts Festival, highlighting the work of artists with a connection to the Town of Rye in this annual art show.
The Port Chester Recreation Department contracted with the PCCFA to provide summer theatre program for children and teens, a partnership that continues today, involving over 150 children each summer. The New York State Recreation Department has honored the PCCFA’s teen music theatre program.