The Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck is celebrating Women’s History Month through a variety of art forms.
The virtual events being put on by the arts center this month include a virtual film on the life and art of Frida Kahlo, a picture story on the life of global graffiti photographer Martha Cooper, and a screening of “Leona,” a film that tells the story of a Syrian-Jewish woman from Mexico City and her journey as an artist living with her family in a Jewish neighborhood.
Another featured program the arts center included in the celebration of Women’s History Month is the popular “Making Memories Through the Arts.” The program invites anyone who may be suffering from any form of memory loss to come in and gain exposure to a variety of art, including dance and music classes and watching films.
Since the pandemic began, the center has transforming all in-person classes and events to an online platform. Ellen Schiff, the center’s School for the Arts director, and Kimberly Pogorelis, the school’s associate director, said there were some silver linings to going online.
“We’ve had terrific volunteers and staff members serving us on the virtual format,” Schiff said. “We needed those people to almost manage the teachers and needed an assistant to take care of the general technology.”
“The other great part about converting to virtual format is the amount of people we are able to get to attend,” Pogorelis said. “Whether it’s dancing, pottery, painting, or any of the other courses we offer to the public, they cater to really anyone.”
Caroline Sorokoff, the arts center’s associate director and director of their annual film festival, said the Making Memories program has seen exponential growth in viewership and attendance since the program was put online. The online platform allows the programs to be viewed after the live streaming of the event throughout residential homes and assisted living facilities.
“With in-person classes, we had around 100 people a month, pre-pandemic,” Sorokoff said. “Since then, we have put them online, with our videos collecting more than 5,000 views, which is even more than 5,000 people watching when you think about it.”
While the arts center and its volunteers have been busy coordinating and promoting virtual events that honor influential women in the arts, its female staff members have been the driving force, especially over the past year.
The center’s founder and executive director, Regina Gil, said, “I rarely stop to consider the female prominence at the arts center. I think of us as a diverse group of people because we’re all different thinkers.”
Gil touted the entire staff and the center’s board of directors for their tireless work, but spoke on the differences between men and women in the workplace. Gil underscored the importance of cohesive working throughout the center and how her female staff functions like a family more than anything else.
“Women simply work differently than men,” Gil said. “The women in my office function more like a family and a team. There’s a certain level of flexibility and understanding that goes along with working here because we’ve all been there before.”
Schiff and Pogorelis emphasized Gil’s points and said there’s synergy with the female staffers along with a mutual respect between them and the male employees.
“We’re living in different times than most people grew up in, and it’s a time where women are really esteemed now,” they said. “It’s also not meant to take away from the fabulous male instructors we have here.”
One of the reasons for mutual respect among all employees is the mindset that there is no job too small for anyone, Sorokoff and Gil said.
“You have to work hard, but also have to know that your work always has value,” Sorokoff said.
“Everybody knows when they get hired what their responsibilities are,” Gil added. “But everyone here has to do everything to further their vision along. Everyone I work with knows I’ll pick up the trash and do some cleaning. There is no job too small for anyone.”
To register and learn more about upcoming events at the Gold Coast Arts Center, visit https://goldcoastarts.org/.