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Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts Receives 2017 CQL Award of Excellence

The Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts in Gloversville, New York is being honored with a 2017 Award of Excellence by CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership. This award acknowledges their creation of an inclusive environment where artistic expression and diverse creativity can flourish for all aspiring and established artists, both with and without disability. Their community-based facility offers classes, exhibits, productions, concerts, camps, workshops, and other enrichment experiences where all participants are respected as artists, actors, dancers, musicians, and aspiring chefs.

“The Nigra Arts Center has a genuine attentiveness to each person as an artist. Instead of focusing on disability as being the context for their creation, each artist’s work stands on its own, just as it should. It’s a refreshing approach,” says Mary Kay Rizzolo, President and CEO of CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership. CQL is presenting five recipients with the 2017 CQL Award of Excellence at the 2017 CQL Conference, themed ‘Blueprint for Person-Centered Practices,’ in recognition of best practices in human services.

The Lexington Foundation, of The Arc Lexington, owns and operates the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts. Following numerous Personal Outcome Measures® interviews, Lexington discovered that many people had interest in the creative arts and wanted more opportunities to enjoy and express themselves. This center is unique in that community members take part in program activities, right along with those receiving more formal supports. The Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts also does not differentiate artists based on diagnosis during juried exhibitions, as there is no reference at all to an artist’s disability.

“We are most proud to see people with disabilities recognized for their individual talents and abilities by everyone who comes to the arts center. Every day they are learning and sharing experiences with others who have common goals and aspirations. This has helped them feel respected and to be true members of the community,” said Shaloni Winston, Executive Director of Lexington and the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts. “We are grateful to CQL for this honor and recognition and look forward to sharing our model with others.”

The mission of the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts is to provide a creative educational resource for people of all ages and abilities while celebrating the arts through classes, entertainment, exhibitions, and special events. Additionally, they are committed to offering accessible art programs for adults and children with developmental and physical differences.

Lexington, a chapter of the Arc of New York, is a private, not-for-profit agency providing a wide range of services to adults and children who have disabilities in Fulton and Albany Counties. Created in 1953 by a group of concerned parents, Lexington is recognized as one of the leading agencies of its kind in New York State.


Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.