BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – The month of March, along with being National Women’s History Month, is Nexstar’s annual remarkable women contest.
Here in Binghamton, we will be showcasing 4 finalists throughout the month, beginning today with Nancy Barno Reynolds.
Nancy always finds ways to be innovative and continue moving forward.
It’s the day Nancy Barno Reynolds has been working toward for more than a year. The Arts Council finally has a new home in the heart of Binghamton’s downtown arts district on State Street.
Nancy Barno Reynolds says, “there are a lot of artists who lost their jobs, musicians who were put out of commission through COVID, and so, we have created this new space with two galleries so that we can showcase more work.”
Since she became director in 2018, the arts council has created the Art Trail, the Art Guide, manages the First Friday event, and added galleries so local artists can show off their work.
Gallery Manager Connie Barnes says Reynolds always looks for ways to make other people’s dreams a reality.
Gallery and Education Manager Connie Barnes says, “One of the friendliest women I have ever met in my life. And, she will bend over backwards to make you comfortable in any situation.”
But it hasn’t been without its challenges.
After settling at 95 Court Street in Binghamton, the arts council had to hastily leave in the summer of 2021, after the landlord got into a dispute with the city and the building was shut down.
As a result, the Arts Council has been housed in four different locations over five years.
“I have an office that’s completely different from every other space I’ve ever been in, and it’s filled with art, and my desk was made by an artist, and it makes me so happy.”
Reynolds has been a Broome County resident for all her life.
She grew up in a supportive, open-minded household as the youngest of four sisters, and attended Catholic school.
Growing up, Reynolds was encouraged to speak her mind and ask questions.
“I grew up not really caring or worrying about how I looked, it was more about what I thought.”
Both of her parents were teachers, and her goal growing up was to follow in their footsteps.
Her dream came to fruition in her mid 20’s when she started teaching middle school in Johnson City at a time when the district was home to many refugee families.
Over those next 10 years, Reynolds married, had four kids, and began teaching E-S-L and graduate education courses at Binghamton University.
It was during her time at B-U that she realized that there was a lack of art classes in our community.
“There are very few opportunities outside of the public school system for kids to get art, music, drama, dance, writing, any kind of instruction like that.”
So, Reynolds utilized her connections and in 2005, she brought together local artists and creators to form the Art School .
The group’s mission was to educate the community through art such as highlighting 9 local cancer survivors and creating a documentary following the A-C-A shooting in 2009.
She says she looks to others for a diverse set of experiences and talent.
“I mean, if you’re going to do anything transformative, you’re one person, you don’t even know what you don’t know.”
Throughout her careers in the arts and education, Reynolds has sought to give everyone a voice, and an opportunity to shine.
In particular, gender equality has always been a significant goal of hers.
“Women aren’t maybe equally, historically represented or heard, or celebrated, that I think, there’s not a single woman that I know who’s not a remarkable woman.”
When she took the job, the Arts Council only had one other employee, now it has 10. And she established a new mission statement: to serve, preserve and transform the community through art.
“I have said this to the board, I think I’ve done everything I set out to do with this, and now, I’d like to just see it bloom, you know, and see where it goes.”
Her colleagues say, Reynolds won’t rest for long. She’ll soon be looking to collaborate with others to help them realize their artistic vision.
Our next Remarkable Women finalist will be showcased next Wednesday.
You can learn more about our Remarkable Women series and see past honorees here.