Rick Whelan: Volunteer Extraordinaire!

On June 4, Arts Mid-Hudson honored eleven individuals and organizations for their excellent work and contributions to the vibrancy of the arts in Ulster County. The 7th Annual Ulster County Arts Award ceremony was held at The Barn at Apple Greens Gold Course in Highland, and it was truly an evening to remember.

Delicious bites and sips. A talented trio of musicians—Nancy Tierney and The Boys (Ken McGloin and Jim Curtain). Networking with many of the Hudson Valley’s most ardent arts supporters and artivists. Lively conversations with some of our region’s most talented artists. An incredible Silent Auction.

It was a gorgeous early summer evening in a beautiful setting.

And, for those of us who hold Kingston Midtown Arts District near and dear, this evening was especially wonderful because our own Rick Whelan was among the honorees. MAD Board President, Anne Bailey, delivered the following remarks before bestowing a beautifully crafted handmade award by Sara Beames Designs.

Tonight’s volunteer award goes to someone I have worked closely with for more than four years. But I have to tell you upon investigation Rick Whelan’s volunteerism goes back much further than four years. When he arrived in Kingston with his family and graphic design business Ditto! Design! in 2004, Rick got busy working and volunteering for different not-for-profits in Kingston. He designed logos and websites for many organizations at little or no cost and also developed communications plans that helped these fledgling organizations thrive. 

Now comes my little piece in all of this and why I am up here tonight. I am one of the founding members of the Midtown Arts District in Kingston. When Kingston’s Midtown Arts District was starting to form, we had no money, no logo, no website, no promotional materials, not much of anything except the extraordinary people involved who had an extraordinary vision to create a district that would energize Kingston’s run-down and under-served Midtown neighborhood. We thought we would do this with what already existed in Midtown: a thriving but not at all organized arts community.

Rick was there almost from the beginning. It was Rick Whelan who volunteered to help us get ourselves organized with a very real brochure, and then a fabulous website, and then an arts newsletter and ultimately the amazing 1st Saturday gallery guide for all of Kingston. Wow, Rick! This was all accomplished with an endless amount of volunteer hours. With his fabulous team of cohorts, which include his lively wife Susan Whelan and writer extraordinaire Debra Bresnan, they helped give birth to a District.

How do you thank someone for making visible the aspirations and goals of a fledgling organization? How do you thank someone who has created press releases, visual material, promotional material, our logo, our website, cards, stationary and so much more. Rick, you really do make us look good!

Beyond always showing up on every occasion—whether it be a big event or a little meeting—Rick is always there. I mean it. He always shows up and always gets the work done. And now I know he has stretched his volunteerism into other activities including ArtWalk, Made in Kingston and, most importantly to many of us here tonight, the design of the Pauline Oliveros sign which was installed with the help of the Kingston Arts Commission last year.

In Rick, you will find a kind and generous human being who gives a lot of himself to the Kingston community. Good natured and rock solid, he is a man who has helped Kingston grow and thrive by giving time to what matters to him and, by the way, to all of us in the room tonight.

– Anne Bailey, President, MAD Board of Directors

We’re MAD About Our Favorite Volunteer
Rick Whelan opened Ditto! Design! in 2002. His creative agency unites the talents and knowledge of many individuals who share his passion for remarkable design with strategic underpinning.

The foundation for Rick’s expertise in connecting the dots of strategy, creative and media is a lifetime of experiences that includes small firms and global agencies. His work incorporates all aspects of graphic design: corporate identity, branding, publications, marketing, film, websites, e-commerce and social media.

Rick believes the needs of arts-related entities mirror those of any business, and his personal commitment to provide pro bono services to arts organizations is evident: One must project success to be successful.

His current passion is Kingston Midtown Arts District (MAD). Rick leads a team of volunteers to brand, design, write and produce all its marketing and communications. They recently upgraded MAD’s website with free registries for Kingston artists and arts-related businesses.

Anne Bailey, Rick Whelan, Linda Marston-Reid

Congratulations—and thank you, Rick—from all of us at MAD!
To read more about the 7th Annual Ulster County Arts Awards—including bios of all the other awardees—please visit https://artsmidhudson.org/ulster-county-arts-awards/.

Rick Whelan

Rick and Susan Whelan (Photo by Gloria Waslyn)