Bethel Woods Center For The Arts



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The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is a not-for-profit performing arts center and museum located at the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival in Bethel, New York. Bethel Woods mission is to enrich, promote and improve the quality of life in the community through culture, education, history and the arts. Located approximately 90 miles (140 km) from New York City, the state-of-the-art 15,000-capacity outdoor performing arts venue, intimate 400-seat Event Gallery, and award-winning Museum at Bethel Woods are set within a bucolic 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) campus. Bethel Woods offers a diverse selection of popular artists, culturally-rich performances, educational and community programs, including the annual Harvest Festival, which broaden exposure to history and the arts, while fostering community collaboration and outreachBeginning in 1996, cable television pioneer and philanthropist Alan Gerry purchased the original festival field and 1,700 surrounding acres, with eventual plans for an arts center. The $100 million Bethel Woods Center For The Arts project, launched by the Gerry Foundation in 2004, has employed over 650 New York State laborers and artisans in every trade and skill, many from the local area. The Museum is designed to preserve the historic site on which the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair took place.
Bethel Woods Center For The Arts features a 7,500-square-foot (700 m2) stage, a 4,500 covered seat pavilion and a natural sloping lawn accommodating up to 10,500 people. An outdoor terrace stage has space for up to 1,000, and the Woodstock Site Festival Field can accommodate events up to 30,000 capacities. Other venues at the center include The Event Gallery – an intimate indoor space for performance, lectures and special events; a 132 seat state-of-the art Museum Theater with 1080p high-definition video projection, The Market Sheds - two rustic yet elegant 40' x 100' event spaces with beautiful scenic views overlooking the legendary festival field; and two classrooms.
The inaugural season of 2006 included 9 show days, while in 2010 the center presented 18 main stage performances including Sting with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, Dave Matthews Band, Santana, and Brooks & Dunn, plus nine Event Gallery performances held in the spring and fall.
The Museum at Bethel Woods

An award-winning Museum opened in June 2008 dedicated to the exploration the unique experience of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair, its significance as a culminating event of a decade of radical cultural transformation, and the legacies of the Sixties and Woodstock today.
The Bethel Woods Center For The Arts interactive exhibits consist of audio/visual experiences, informative displays, and a collection of artifacts, and the permanent exhibits include: The Sixties, The Woodstock Festival, Three Days of Peace and Music, Impact of Woodstock & The Sixties.
In addition to information about the music festival, which is about two-thirds of the museum's scope, the museum offers exhibits, personal stories and a multi-media experience about various aspects of the 1960s, including music, fashion and political protest. It focuses on issues such as the baby boom, Cold War, Civil Rights Movement, and the assassinations and riots that occurred during the decade, all of which contribute to the context of Woodstock. The 7,000-square-foot (650 m2) museum includes a 132 seat high-definition theater and a 4,300-square-foot (400 m2) gallery, as well as classrooms, a cafe, a museum shop, and a patio.
A special exhibit gallery opened in 2009 and has presented special exhibitions including: Old School, Rock Heroes, Give Peace A Chance, Robert Altman's Sixties, Eddie Adams: Vietnam and Collecting Woodstock to date. Bethel Woods Center for the Arts also hosted The Wall That Heals, The Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Museum in 2010.
Bethel Woods operates the museum and offers programs nine months a year. It was hoped that the opening the center will help revive tourism, which has suffered in the region following the closure of many resorts following the decline of the Borscht Belt. While Sullivan County has struggled, at times, with the legacy of Woodstock, officials hope the museum will help manage that. Bethel Woods Center For The Arts is already benefiting from the opening of the performing arts center in 2006, and has led to increased development in the town, along the Route 17B corridor, and in nearby Kauneonga Lake, and is seen as one of the county's larger economic development programs, despite the initial controversy surrounding some of its funding.
Bethel Woods Center For The Arts Funding controversy:
$1 million in federal funding earmarked for The Museum by the U.S. Senate in June 2007 was criticized after it was revealed the museum founder, Alan Gerry, then donated almost $30,000 to New York Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer, who had helped to secure the funding. Clinton did not speak during the debate on the project, but Schumer strongly defended the Bethel project as a boon for an economically struggling county.
The funding was rescinded in October 2007 following criticism from Republicans led by John McCain, although it did not affect the museum's scheduled opening nor the more than $15 million in state funding.