Seize the moment

It’s not often that someone comes along and changes the face of a town.  But it does happen once in a while.  And, it did happen in the case of Steve Apkon and the Jacob Burns Film Center.  Steve moved to Pleasantville in the late nineties, put down his roots, had a second child, decided to change his life, gave up a successful Wall Street career, spent a year in Israel, came back to Westchester with an idea and got the support of then Mayor John Nonna.  That idea is now the Jacob Burns Film Center (www.burnsfilmcenter.org), celebrating its 10th anniversary with an unparalleled record of achievement.

Former Mayor Joe Delfino used to say on many occasions when complimented on the growth of White Plains into a “destination city,” “Nobody does it alone.”  I don’t know if Mayor Joe made that up or was quoting Socrates, but the truth is that nobody does do it alone.  And both Steve Apkon and Mayor Joe had plenty of help from others along the way. (I will refrain here from naming names for obvious reasons.) But, as Tevye says in “Fiddler on the Roof”….”on the other hand….” Steve Apkon had a vision.  He wanted to bring film to Westchester.  He wanted to create in Pleasantville the artistic energy of the Westside of Manhattan where he had enjoyed living, close to all the creative offerings in the arts.  He saw an old theatre lying fallow.  He wanted to give it new life.  He seized the moment.

When you think about it:  How many of us seize the moment?  Steve did.  Mayor Joe did.  And many others did and do.  Mark and Livia Straus did when they started the Hudson Valley Center of Contemporary Art (www.hvcca.org) bringing exciting contemporary art to Peekskill. Walter and Lucie Rosen did when they planned the Caramoor estate as a place for musical evenings, which later became the Caramoor International Festival (www.caramoor.org).  The Friends of Mozartina did when the Ringeisen family  purchased and saved from destruction the old Tarrytown Music Hall (www.tarrytownmusichall.org), now run by Bjorn Olsson and Karina Ringeisen. So what is it that makes things happen?  One thing is vision, but there’s also the unwavering, single-minded, almost unshakable belief that “if you build it, they will come.”  And they will.

Know others who have seized the moment?  Please leave me a comment and let me know.

2 Responses to “Seize the moment”

  1. June 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Thanks Janet – You were there at the beginning with ArtsWestchester and you were a believer!! Hard to imagine it’s been 10 years… And “plenty of help” is an understatement. We are so fortunate to have a wonderful community here in Westchester – all of us are the richer for the partnerships and collaborations and collective support along the way.

    Keep up your great work at ArtsWestchester!!

  2. June 30, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    Thank you, Steve. Westchester is better because of the groundbreaking work you do! -Janet