The idea to create a school for the visual arts in Columbia County had its beginning in September 2012 when Nicole Furnée, owner of the “Old Schoolhouse” (built in 1842) in Harlemville, NY, decided to turn this quaint, one-room school into a space that would focus on visual arts education.

Nicole operated her Red Maple Bookstore from this beautiful location until 2010.  Currently owners of the Chatham Bookstore, Nicole and her husband, Thomas Chulak, combined her love for the arts with his organizational development experience and set about making it happen. They reached out to several artists and friends in Columbia County to explore possibilities around starting an art school and received enthusiastic encouragement from the Columbia County Council on the Arts (CCCA) to move forward with the idea. An Art School Organizing Committee was appointed and began meeting in October 2012.

After several meetings, it became clear that a county with over 400 declared visual artists and countless aspiring artists and no county-wide art school, created a compelling and exciting opportunity. The Organizing Committee decided an art school serving Columbia County would be established and it would:

  • be named: Art School of Columbia County (ASCC)
  • take on the mission of nurturing creativity and community through the visual arts
  • initially offer classes and workshops with a studio focus in the Old Schoolhouse in Harlemville
  • be accessible to persons of all ages, abilities and means.
  • A committed and dedicated group of people and organizations has supported making ASCC’s vision a reality.  The Columbia County Council on the Arts (CCCA)Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, and is183 Art School of the Berkshires, have served as key advisers to ASCC.

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