New RACC leader eager for reopening

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Rome Art & Community Center, 308 W. Bloomfield St., has appointed Jason Tockey as its new executive director.

Tockey started in his new position in November, having had previous experience in the arts and working for non-profits in California and Massachusetts. He is also a fine arts photographer.

Raised in Southern California, Tockey attended graduate school at the Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Mass., where he majored in religion/religious studies, and returned to California upon graduation.

He received his bachelor’s degree from California Baptist University.

Tockey has worked freelance as the marketing director for Iron Maul Entertainment, a kickstarter company that makes card games; as an associate of special projects and administration for the American City Coalition; as manager of the grant-giving program for the Pacific Investment Management Company; and as the marketing coordinator/operations administrator for the Worcester Chamber Music Society in Worcester, Mass. And since 2008, he has owned Jason Tockey Images Photography.

“I’m a creative arts and non-profit program development and design professional with a diverse background in a variety of non-profit settings who brings an entrepreneurial spirit to the work,” said Tockey.

For three years, Tockey said he owned his own art gallery in Laguna Beach, Calif. that worked as a “collective,” featuring several different local artists to “get them off their feet” and help establish them as artists. The majority of the gallery was paintings, but it also featured photography, jewelry design and ceramics, and he hosted regular juried art shows, Tockey said.

Unfortunately during the economic downturn, Tockey was forced to close his gallery, joining at least 11 others in Southern California that had to shut down during that time.

Then at the beginning of 2016, Tockey moved back to the area where he attended graduate school, “because I just fell in love with the change of seasons in Boston,” he said.

Tockey also has experience with an organization serving children, having worked for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America as his first job out of college.

“When I found out about the executive director opening here at the art center, I thought, ‘What a great match,’” said Tockey, also noting RACC’s pre-school program, Artletics summer camp program and other programming for kids.

While working for the Worcester Chamber Music Society, Tockey said he was not only responsible for helping to organize about 20 concerts a season, but there was also a children’s program where symphony members would give free violin, viola and cello lessons. He said he looks forward to collaborating with local artists and musicians for a variety of programming at RACC.

Tockey had been working for Iron Maul Entertainment when the coronavirus hit, and any events for promoting and selling its games were canceled. He started looking for work in an arts and culture-type organization and happily saw the job posting for RACC.

“It turned out to be the perfect blend of arts and non-profit work — all my passions,” he said. “I’m just so excited to be here.”

Of course Tockey started his new position in Rome when not just the art center, but organizations across the country were forced to cancel programming due to the pandemic last year. So the first order of business was to start planning for 2021.

“At first we thought we might be up and running again in March, but now it’s looking more like it will be April or May,” the executive director said. “But for early May, we’re planning the Sip Into Spring event, featuring local specialty foods, and beer and wine vendors, music, and I have an artist lined up to be featured in the gallery.”

Tockey said he also looks forward to planning the art center’s summer concert and dinner night series, and he immediately understood the importance of the annual Holiday House event, as he’s already heard from several members of the community about having to cancel 2020’s fund-raiser, hoping it can continue in 2021.

“There is a good foundation here,” said Tockey, referring to planned events and programming. “I appreciate being able to take this time to get my feet wet and learn everything there is to know about the art center and board. I’m looking forward to hosting the Holiday House again, and hosting creative arts, music and culinary events with a multi-level approach that gives people a chance to experience a variety of arts — not just visual — but the whole creative process.”

And when RACC can once again return to regular programming post-COVID, “We’re hoping to be bigger and better,” he said.

As events continued to be planned and explored for 2021, RACC is also hosting a membership drive as a way to invite community members back into the center.

A membership comes with several benefits including discounted rental rates, discounts for various activities, classes, and community events, publications including electronic newsletters and announcements, exhibit notifications, class schedules, invitations, and much, according to the RACC website.

Being a member of RACC not only financially supports the non-profit arts facility, but helps the center to live out its mission of fostering community spirit and making the arts available and accessible to all, the announcement read.

For more information, visit http://romeart.org/site/membership/, or call the center at 315-336-1040.

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