By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO August 16, 2002 If Stan Raiff has his way, Bethel may not be the only Sullivan County town with a new performing arts center.
Raiff formed Catskills' IDEA (Institute for the Development of Entertainment Arts) ten years ago to work with children and those who are physically and mentally challenged, helping them to express themselves through the arts.
As the tenth anniversary approaches on October 12, Catskills' IDEA has expanded and moved its base of operations (including 34 employees and nine programs serving more than 1,000 children) from a building near the county courthouse to the former Monticello Middle School on St. John Street. They lease the space from BOCES.
"It has been the fulfillment of a long decade of uphill battles," Raiff commented, adding that hes looking forward to adding programs for adults and senior citizens. "This is the perfect home for us. We will be here for the next nine years."
And right down the hall from his office, inside the old middle school theater, Raiff wants to build a family performing arts center. He has applied for a grant to accomplish the work, with support from the Sullivan County Planning and Community Development Department, the Village of Monticello, and the Monticello School District.
"It is a very important project," remarked Sullivan County Planning and Community Development Commissioner Alan Sorensen. "It will provide a much-needed cultural anchor."
"We are very excited about the project," Monticello Central School Superintendent Eileen Casey stated. "We make a good effort to find positive things to add to the community. Mr. Raiff has a great vision. It should be a very good thing."
The $460,000 grant, if approved, would include money for air conditioning, state-of-the-art audio and video equipment, and a new facade.
But even if he does not receive the grant, Raiff said he will move forward anyway. He anticipates completing the necessary work when Catskills IDEAs new season opens on October 12.