Omi International Arts Center is a not-for-profit arts organization with residency programs for international visual artists, writers, translators, musicians, and dancers. Omi seeks to foster an environment of creative exploration and exchange, professional opportunity and exposure, and a stylistically and culturally diverse community for creative artists from around the world. Through our programs and resulting public events – including our Residency Programs, The Fields Sculpture Park, Architecture Omi, and Education Omi – Omi contributes to a vibrant arts culture locally, regionally, and internationally.
Since its founding, Omi has been guided by the principle that artistic expression transcends economic, political, and cultural boundaries. To date, Omi has hosted more than 1,800 artists from over 100 countries. By inviting a unique and varied mix of artists, writers, musicians and dancers from all over the world to create a diverse, positive working community, Omi transforms this guiding vision into an exciting reality.
Art Omi founder, Francis Greenburger–real estate investor, entrepreneur, literary agent and art enthusiast – approaches things systematically.
When his business success began to make it possible to think seriously about philanthropy, he examined his objectives, and questioned the proper balance of his expenditures, and time. Long a member of The National Arts Club, and through a friendship with André Emmerich, a board member of Triangle Artists Workshop, his personal passions had already engaged him with the art world. He recalls, "I guess I had this feeling–that the experience of going to galleries was not a meaningful enough connection. It was too far removed. So I wanted to find ways to connect to artists, to get closer to the art I enjoyed experiencing."
With advice from critic Clement Greenberg on the optimal manner in which to organize an awards program ("avoid committees" said the sage Mr. Greenberg), he established The Francis Greenburger Prize, which is given to "under-recognized" artists.
From the beginning, the idea of a residency for visual artists was completely international. Francis explained, "Omi came into being at a time when world was overcoming international prejudices. Somehow when people can't discuss human rights or other sensitive issues, they can, as a starting point, talk about cultural differences. I think that's one of the reasons people respond to our endeavor at Omi, because of an increasing appreciation of the possibility of communication." In addition to the core objective, to provide space and time away from daily pressures to create art, the program also facilitates professional development by bringing art world experts to visit, critique, and dialogue with the residents.
The growth into other art forms happened gradually, and organically. As owner of a literary agency, founded by his father, Sanford J. Greenburger, Francis found the Ledig House residency for writers and translators to be a natural expression of his professional life, and, once again, it was informed by his personal commitment to international exchange.
From that point, the beginning of a residency in a new area was stimulated by the ideas, and driven by the passions of people around him. His then-wife, Judy Willows, conceived of Music Omi, and when a young friend, a dancer, asked him why there wasn't a program for dance, his reply was, "why not?"
The Fields Sculpture Park was to a large degree due to the input of Kathleen Triem and Peter Frank, friends and long-time Omi collaborators, and its arrival–reasserting the Omi tradition of Internationalism–found a satisfying balance in a deeper engagement with, and service to, our home base: Columbia County, the Berkshires, and the Albany area. It's sixty acres of sculpture and the strikingly beautiful Visitors Center, which features a Gallery and Café, have become a treasured refuge for families and dog walkers, as well as lovers of art.
Economic Impact Statement for Columbia County and Surrounding Region
The following data is based on an expense budget of $1.2 million in 2012.
LOCAL JOBS: Omi employed 50 local residents, total earnings including benefits were approximately $606,500.
- 20 employees worked year round (2 full time & 18 part time - 2 to 4 days per week)
- 30 employees worked during Omi's season from March to October
- 15 of those are high-school students
GOODS AND SERVICES: Omi contributed approximately $419,000 into the local economy.
- 136+ businesses
- 82 local businesses, 68 of which are small unique businesses
- 16 Independent contractors
- 7 Local artists
FREE LOCAL EVENTS: Omi hosted 30 events
- 2,800 people attended 23 Omi sponsored events
- 13,000 Sculpture Park visitors
- 3 events hosted for the benefit of other non-profit organizations
- 4 collaborations with other local arts organizations
EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL STUDENTS: Omi's education program offers 23 weekly, 6 school break and 7 week summer art camp for local children; 6 student exhibitions; and 20 school and CoArc groups.
- 442 attended art workshops
- 191 attended summer camp
- 293 attended student exhibitions and family events
- 626 school children attended school sponsored workshops
- 12 teen volunteers doing community service
ONE TIME LARGE CAPITAL PROJECTS SINCE 2008: Omi spent $1,630,000 employing local contractors and sourcing materials locally/regionally for two building projects in recent years.
- $1.2 million on The Charles B. Benenson Visitor Center and Gallery
- $350,000 on three Education Pavilions
- $80,000 on a permanent artist installation by Alice Aycock
Omi International Arts Center is located in beautiful Ghent, New York, two and a half hours from New York City. Omi is situated on 300 acres of rolling farmland with spectacular views of the Catskills and the Hudson River Valley. The Fields Sculpture Park is a public exhibition space featuring over 80 contemporary sculptures. Open year-round, the park provides thousands of visitors the opportunity to experience the impact of important international contemporary sculpture in a striking natural setting. The Charles B. Benenson Visitors Center accommodates visitors to The Fields Sculpture Park, providing an indoor gallery and a café for exhibitions and events.