Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
53 Main Street
Canton, NY 13617
(315) 386-4289


Executive Director - Jill Breit -

Founding Director - Varick Chittenden -

Folk to Table Project Director - Camilla Ammirati -

Communications Director - Xiuke wei -

Bookkeeper - Laura Gagne -

Development Assistant - Carol Hill -


Folkstore Associates -

Debbie Courtney
Kathy Flanagan
Taylor Grant
Sara Ricalton

Executive Director Jill Breit joined TAUNY in 1993, just before the organization opened its first public gallery in Canton. A graduate of St. Lawrence University, Jill earned her M.A. in Folk Studies at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  As Executive Director, in addition to oversight of programming, Jill is in charge of long-range planning, cultivation of funding sources, and staff development. She also continues to be involved in research and programs.

Founding Director Varick Chittenden retired, is a folklorist with particular interests in regional culture, folk art, traditional crafts, foodways, and oral storytelling traditions. He is Professor Emeritus of English and folklore at SUNY Canton, has an MA in American Folk Culture from the Cooperstown Graduate Program and a BA and MEd from St. Lawrence University. He has curated numerous exhibitions of folk art and published countess articles in scholarly and general interest publications. He remains an active folklorist locally and nationally, and regularly consults with TAUNY on programs and projects.

Folk to Table Project Director Camilla Ammirati joined TAUNY in early 2014, where she worked as the Director of Research and Programs for several years before shifting focus to develop TAUNY's "Folk to Table" traditional foodways program in 2021. She earned her PhD in English from the University of Virginia and her B.A. in English from Carleton College. She has also taught literature and communication at UVA and St. Lawrence University, and has been an active musician in Boston, Virginia, and North Country old-time music communities. Prior to her American musical and folklore adventures, she traveled the U.K. and Ireland as a Watson fellow, exploring the relationship between music, folklore, poetry, and place.  

 Communications Director Xiuke Wei started working at TAUNY in 2020. Xiuke was born and raised in China, and moved to Canton, NY in 2018. She studied Film Production and has an M.A. in Chinese Minority Art. Her passion for learning different cultures and their own narratives through the Arts compels her to explore and experience endlessly. She is very excited to be part of TAUNY and the North Country community.

Bookkeeper Laura Gagne joined TAUNY in 2016. Laura retired as Deputy Village Treasurer in Massena. She attended Canton ATC for Accounting and SUNY ESC for Business and Finance. She and her husband, Dave, live in Massena and visit their 2 sons in North Carolina. She loves golf and enjoys various crafts including jewelry making and painting. Laura takes pleasure in working at TAUNY and seeing all the creativity around her.

Development Assistant Carol Hill is from Massachusetts and moved to Canton in the fall of 2017 to “retire”. A graduate of St. Lawrence University, moving back here has enabled her to enjoy even more that the North Country offers. Carol’s main background is in various segments of the boating world, managing not-for-profit clubs, boatyards, and most recently working in development positions for a nonprofit sailing education tall ship program and a therapeutic riding organization. She is an avid photographer and can often be found photographing sports for St. Lawrence University.

Folkstore Associate Debbie Courtney joined TAUNY in 2016. Debbie and her husband live outside the Village of Canton with their 4 rescue critters. Debbie retired from St. Lawrence County after 33 years of employment. They enjoy  hiking, snowshoeing, gardening and boating on the St. Lawrence River. If they are outdoors, they are happy.


Folkstore Associate Kathy Flanagan works closely with Sara to keep the Folkstore running smoothly. Kathy is a Canton native, as is her husband Jack. They have two sons: Sean and Kyle. Kathy worked for Kinney Drugs for 35 years before coming to TAUNY. She enjoys camping and spending time with her extended family.

Folkstore Associate Taylor Grant joined TAUNY in 2016. Taylor was born in Maryland but has lived in Hermon, NY since she was three years old. She graduated from SUNY Potsdam in 2016 with a B.A. in Archaeology. She enjoys volunteer work and serving the Potsdam-Canton community.

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