The story of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts begins with Alan Gerry, a born-and-raised resident of Liberty, NY. Gerry, a cable television pioneer who founded Cablevision Industries Corporation (CVI) in the early 1970s, became passionate about philanthropy and improving the quality of life in his beloved Sullivan County. In the mid-1990s, he created the Gerry Foundation and founded Bethel Woods Center for the Arts as a project of the foundation. His vision? To improve the quality of life and revitalize the economy of the once vibrant Catskills. After the collapse of the tourism industry that had boomed throughout the twentieth century, the county suffered severe economic hardship. He saw the center as a way to inspire betterment through the arts and humanities.
After the Gerry Foundation acquired the 37-acre field in Bethel, NY where the original Woodstock Music & Art Fair took place, as well as 700 acres of surrounding property, the foundation produced the “Day in the Garden” music festival. This three-day event reawakened the potential of the long-dormant site. The following year marked the 30th anniversary of the 1969 festival, and was celebrated with four days of music and entertainment. It was this anniversary celebration that solidified the need for a world-class entertainment and arts center.