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Leadership change expected for Lewiston Council on the Arts as staff retirements announced

From left, Lewiston Arts Council staff, Irene Likashewski, Timothy Henderson, Kathryn Celianni, and Eva Niklas.  (Submitted photo)

From left, Lewiston Arts Council staff, Irene Likashewski, Timothy Henderson, Kathryn Celianni, and Eva Niklas. (Submitted photo)

Friday, October 14, 2022 10:55 am

The Lewiston Arts Council announced Wednesday that a staff member with whom it has worked for 30 years will retire at the end of 2022, with a leadership transition process beginning immediately.

Executive Director Irene Rykaszewski and Artistic Director Eva Nicklas are best known as representatives of the organization, but Kathryn Serianni and Tim Henderson have been integral to the team’s success. All four attended at approximately the same time, and together, with the help of a volunteer board of directors, planned, coordinated, and promoted all programs.

“It was a great honor to work with such creative friends and colleagues,” said Rykaszewski. “We are proud of the role we played in creating a community that both residents and visitors love.” I am thinking about it,” he said.

“Eva, Eileen, Tim and Kathryn left an incredible legacy for Lewiston, Niagara County and the region at large,” said LCA Board President Todd Niazuk. “Their retirement is well deserved and we cannot thank them enough for all they have accomplished and for their willingness to help transition LCA to the next leadership.”

The organization started as an informal group of local artists and their friends who volunteered to host the annual Lewiston Art Festival. Under the leadership of Rykaszewski and Nicklas, LCA has evolved into a community-based 501(c)(3) non-profit arts council, offering festivals, events, concerts, classes, historical ghost walks, speaker series, literary events, and children’s program.

In addition, staff opened a cooperative art gallery, the Native American Art Gallery, and oversaw the placement of numerous public art pieces and parks throughout the community.

A search committee will oversee the process of choosing Rykaszewski’s successor. Then work with the board to build a new team. Two directors assist during the process to ensure a smooth transition.

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Local leaders said replacing the LCA team would not be an easy task.

Jennifer Polley, President of the Niagara River Area Chamber of Commerce, said: The staff at the Lewiston Arts Council is second to none. They love what they do and he dedicates 200% to growing the Arts Council and providing our community with a wealth of programs. We are so lucky to have them take the lead in ensuring that art takes precedence here.

Lewiston Village Mayor Anne Welch said, “Eva, Eileen, Tim and Kathryn, I am so sad to hear of your retirement, but I think it’s justified. I hope this community will be like this under your leadership.” It’s hard to put into words how grateful I am to have an amazing arts council. One of the best (if not the best) arts festivals in western New York, and the incredible Marble Thank you to all of you for your great talent, dedication, passion and hard work in creating The Orchard, all of your many efforts have been successful and enjoyed by thousands of residents and visitors. I thank you for your valued friendship. I know that a qualified heir will be found to carry on your legacy, but no one will come near to take your place.”

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