Massena man starts local acting society, networking site in hopes of uniting area artists, actors
Saturday, August 30, 2014 - 4:35 pm

MASSENA -- In an attempt to unite area artists and actors, a Massena man has started a local acting society and launched a networking site.

Elijah Winfrey recently started Blank Canvas and founded the North Country Acting Society in July 2013.

“Blank Canvas is truly the first of its kind in that it includes all of the arts and not just one specific style (Deviant Art), it also does not limit the amount of characters you can use to deliver your message (Twitter) to your audience, and finally it doesn’t stick its nose in your affairs (Facebook),” Winfrey said.

He says he wants to build up the area entertainment industry and sees Blank Canvas as another step towards that end. He hopes to get 500 to 1,000 members by year’s end.

“My intention is for it to grow and eventually require its own engine,” Winfrey said. “Using this idea it will hopefully reach all of the United States and draw them back here to Massena.”

The site can be found at http://blankcanvas.yooco.org/home.html .

He thinks another step toward turning Massena into a desirable community for creative types is to formally unite them with the North Country Acting Society.

“When we started this whole thing I just wanted a way for creative people in this area to know they were not alone. Looking back its funny to think how something so minute develops so quickly,” he said of the organization, which now has 34 members. He says they hail from all over St. Lawrence County, including Massena, Rensselaer Falls, Norwood, Akwesasne, Potsdam, Brasher Falls and the Madrid-Waddington area.

He says group members are involved in five films being shot right now in the area between Watertown and Plattsburgh.

“When you really think about it there is no reason that this area cannot be like a mini Hollywood if we do this right,” Winfrey said. “When you look at the fact that you have a performing arts school [at] SUNY Potsdam and all the arts that happen right across our border, you can begin to see how this could work.”

Winfrey said the organization will network with the Massena Boys and Girls Club, set to launch in the fall, to engage youth in acting and movie-making.

Winfrey said joining the North Country Acting Society is free. Go to the group’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NorthCountryActingSociety and click “like.” Also send a message with contact information. They meet once per month at Star Tech Computers on East Orvis Street in Massena. The meetings are only open to society members.