Winner of the “Woman of Distinction” award and the “Eleanor Roosevelt Award” for her achievements in the arts.
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Founder and Executive Director of the Great Neck Arts Center
Favorite Professors: Milton Goldstein and Richard Vaux in the department of Art and Art History.
Advice to students: “Make sure that your career is one that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning.”
Making the Arts Matter
The Great Neck Arts Center offers arts classes, a summer program for young artists, performances and concerts, and an independent film series to the greater Long Island community. It’s all a part of Regina Gil’s ongoing vision for the dynamic role of the arts in Nassau County.
In the early 1990s, after completing her master’s degree in art at Adelphi, the former commercial illustrator developed a 10-page proposal for a visual and performing arts center that would be a resource for her community. After submitting it to New York Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli, she received a small state grant to develop a business plan and was encouraged to begin fundraising.
“It was the first time I was doing any of these things,” she says. “But, I always knew I wanted to be an artist and share my vision with people. I knew that the arts could change the world.”
After surveying her Great Neck community, she met with the town’s mayors and civic leaders. One by one, Ms. Gil convinced them of the importance of an arts center that would serve art lovers and those new to the arts, as well as attract visitors and stimulate business in the region. In 1994, she was appointed the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for the Village of Great Neck Plaza, a position which allowed her to reach out to new potential partners and supporters.
Her dedication has yielded impressive results. The small studios she opened in the basement of St. Paul’s church have grown into a 10,000 square-foot space that includes fine arts and ceramics studios, dance studios, a black box theatre, as well as teaching and exhibit spaces.
The Center provides new opportunities to people of all ages, from toddler to senior, and draws visitors from all areas of Nassau County and Queens. Even as she continues to grow her Center, Ms. Gil still finds the time to teach painting classes to adults.
Her future plans include acquiring a larger facility, and developing an accredited arts program. Ms. Gil has already secured an educational affiliation with the Kennedy Center, on whose Advisory Committee she sits. She has also served on the Long Island Arts Alliance, as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Yiddish Theatre, as a grants review panelist on the NYSCA, and is currently president of the Great Neck Historical Society.
Her achievements have been recognized by the 1999 “Woman of Distinction” award by the New York State Senate, and the 1997 “Eleanor Roosevelt Award” from the AJC Women’s Commission for Equality.
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