Fall for Arts with Tad Sudol and Ioan Popoiu

Is Fall For Arts Failing This Year Because of RIOC Neglect?


Fall for Arts failing this year seemed likely from its belated start and now seems more so. An email blast from RIOC, its primary sponsor hints at chaos and disconnection. After dumping the project on an ill-equipped partner, RIVAA, the state agency appears to have ducked for cover.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

As we reported earlier, RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes had to be persuaded otherwise by managers when he decided to cancel Fall for Arts in 2022. He’d fired everyone involved in staging the event, months before.

Absent Erica Spencer-EL and Jessica Cerone, he was unwilling to commit the effort required. But a process was in place, even with the managers long gone, and could be followed. Why not recruit event partner, the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association, for the work?

Well, there were several Why nots, but in another lackadaisical misstep, Haynes blew past them.

Fall for Arts Failing

For over a decade, community liaison Erica Spencer-EL pioneered Fall for Arts, working alongside RIVAA President Tad Sudol. The event grew, expanding into a new concept Motorgate Art Gallery, which is now gone.

RIOC did not take into account that RIVAA, a volunteers-only nonprofit, had troubles of its own. The artists’ collective was dealing with the departure of longtime President Tad Sudol. Sudol had been the moving force behind Fall for Arts as well as the Motorgate Gallery.

In 2016, Tad Sudol (L) opened the Motorgate Gallery in partnership with Erica Spencer-EL, shown her with her kids, also art lovers.

Not lacking in ambition, RIVAA took up the job, releasing a Call for Artists with a proposal submission date of September 15th. Indications are that it failed. One reason: their lazy partner, RIOC, stood on the sidelines.

And the event, even if it worked, just like Roosevelt Island Day, shrank by more than half under Haynes. Instead of an exciting spread of creativity from the Rivercross Lawn to Southpoint Park, everything would be confined to a misnamed “Meditation Lawn,” which exists only in RIOC’s imagination.

Until after the submission date passed, RIOC did nothing, reducing its impact dramatically.

RIOC Finally Bumbles In

Yesterday, a day after the Call for Artists expired, RIOC finally punched out one of their error-prone “advisories.”

“RIOC is partnering with RIVAA to host the 2022 Fall for Arts event!” it proclaimed.

With a chaotic flourish, it went on:

“Fall For Arts ‘Call for Artists’ until Tuesday, September 20th.” it reads. It’s an incomplete sentence with no details about themes or even who gets the proposals and how to reach them. And the date is five days after the one announced by RIVAA.

Adding misery to chaos, any artist searching for RIVAA online for details gets a 404 error page instead. RIVAA no longer has a website. That apparently went out the door with outgoing President Sudol.

Maybe the phones were down. And email too.

Nevertheless, they babble on: “Please include the graphic!”

Uhm… What graphic?

“Live Mural Painting, Food trucks and More!”

Compare with last year when RIOC created a dynamic poster:

Last year’s poster. Spencer-EL and Sudol were still in charge.

Fall for Arts was then dynamic and focused. This year, it’s unclear to the verge of surreal.

And it’s failing. And it’s RIOC’s fault. Again. Another flop from Governor Hochul’s forced leadership team.

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