New York State Council on the Arts
300 Park Avenue South, 10th Floor
New York, New York 10010
Contact: Ronni Reich
December 23, 2019


NYSCA Awards $4.2M To Support Cultural Sector Employment, Including Fellowships Building Workforce Equity

NYSCA Awards $2.1M To Support Capital Projects Driving Tourism and Revitalization 

NYSCA Awards New $100,000 Arts Impact Awards Celebrating Iconic NYS Public Art Events as Proven Drivers of Economy and Vibrancy 

New York, NY—The New York State Council on the Arts today announced $7,110,000 to 160 projects in Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative support for programs driving economic and workforce development statewide. NYSCA REDC awards capitalize on opportunities within New York State’s robust cultural sector and reach all 10 regions across the state.

Governor Cuomo’s REDC initiative is a ground up strategy focused on delivering economic development regionally through ten state agencies. NYSCA REDC grants recognize the critical role the arts and culture sector plays in fueling tourism, community revitalization, and job creation through workforce investment, capital projects and large-scale public art events.

“NYSCA’s REDC awards build on the strength of our state’s cultural sector as a critical driver of economic and individual health,” said Mara Manus, Executive Director, New York State Council on the Arts.

“For 2020, NYSCA expanded workforce investment and development support in response to demand from the field; created a substantial grant opportunity to build on signature public art events; and awarded capital funding for critical improvements to the sustainability and accessibility of our arts organizations.”  

Mid-Size Capital Awards

NYSCA’s Mid-Size Capital Awards will provide a total of $2.11M to 18 projects that advance REDC priorities of placemaking and downtown revitalization. This includes projects such as the National Women’s Hall of Fame’s restoration of the Seneca Knitting Mill to be home to a national tourism destination in the Finger Lakes, and Pendragon Theatre’s transformation of a former paint store in Saranac Lake into a state-of-the-art theatre expected to generate $2 million in its first two years. The theater will be a core component of the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative Strategic Investment Plan.

Workforce Investment and Development

NYSCA has expanded its Workforce Investment and Development grantmaking to a total of $4.2 million – nearly a $1 million increase from FY2019 – for the creation or expansion of more than 130 jobs and workforce training programs.

Grant opportunities include:

  • NYSCA Workforce Investment, to stimulate the growth and diversity of the state’s workforce through the creation and expansion of cultural sector jobs, providing critical employment opportunities while building community vitality.
  • NYSCA REDC Arts Workforce Fellowships provide pathways to living wage jobs in the creative sector for people from historically underrepresented communities.

For the first time this year, workforce funding is being offered as a two-year opportunity; current and former grantees can renew support for an additional year, and former workforce readiness grantees are now eligible for workforce investment grants.

Grantees include:

  • Buffalo String Works, which provides music instruction to refugee youth from all over the world, will receive renewed support for its Executive Director, a position created in 2019 with REDC funding.
  • The Apollo Theater’s Job Readiness Pathway to the Arts, which provides training, internships and fellowships to youth ages 16-25 from underrepresented communities in production-related careers in the arts.
  • Ancram Opera House will receive renewed support for its Artistic Director, who safeguards the continuation of the extraordinary growth that the 3-year-old theater has already experienced. The theater is an anchor of local economic and community development in an underserved Columbia County hamlet.
  • The Josephine Herrick Project will recruit an Outreach Director to create its new workforce development programs for veterans and youth at risk, and to expand its placemaking community development programs for public housing residents.
  • Drama Club will hire a full-time Programs Manager to expand theatre programming and mentorship to incarcerated youth across New York City.

New York State Arts Impact Awards

New for 2020, NYSCA will launch the first Arts Impact Awards, providing a total of $800,000 in $100,000 awards to 8 large-scale festivals and public art projects with proven track records of success as local and regional economic drivers. Award recipients include the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, the largest Halloween event in the tristate area, which will expand to a new location in Bethpage; and the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s Trailblaze NY, a successor to Water Music 2017, which drew 23,000 audience members to canal communities in celebration of the Erie Canal bicentennial.

“These innovative, collaborative projects are the unique experiences coveted by residents of New York and visitors to our state. Our festivals and public arts projects provide an infusion of revenue to local businesses and build our communities,” said Katherine Nicholls, Chair, New York State Council on the Arts. “These opportunities fuel our state’s vast and powerful cultural sector, which generates $120 billion to the state economy and employs over 460,000 workers.”

Recipients include:

  • Historic Hudson Valley’s Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, a family-friendly experience of over 7,000 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns and the Tristate’s largest ticketed Halloween event, having drawn 1.3 million visitors over the past 14 years. A growing demand for tickets presents an opportunity to launch a second Blaze in another region, while allowing Blaze in Westchester to capture a larger audience from adjacent areas such as NJ and CT. Significant expansion of Blaze in 2020 includes adding a new Blaze location at Old Bethpage Village Restoration in central Long Island.
  • Powerful Niagara, a major interdisciplinary collaboration between Artpark, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) and Jon Lehrer Dance Company (JLDC) culminating in a live performance at Artpark. Over 100 dancers will perform with full orchestra on the site of a restored masterpiece, Niagara ’79, by Gene Davis as a culmination of the Strawberry Moon Festival. For this unique performance, BPO’s Joann Falletta is creating a music program honoring Native American traditions, the power of the Falls, and the area’s rich cultural, natural, and historic assets.
  • Just Buffalo Literary Center’s The Civil Writes Project, a large-scale public art and engagement project that confronts the history of racism and invites the community to imagine a better future through writing and literature. With emphasis on African American voices, this year-long endeavor will highlight the tremendous literary talent that has defined Western New York’s past, and will shape its future. More than 1 million will be served through readings, workshops, hands-on activities, and public art in venues such as community gardens, little libraries, the Reading Park, and tutoring centers.
  • Hudson Hall’s Hudson Jazz Festival, a multi-day celebration of concerts, workshops, and school programs designed to benefit local businesses, nurture budding jazz artists, and accelerate participation of local and nearby residents in Hudson’s cultural economy. The project expands Hudson Jazz Festivals that have significantly increased visitation and corresponding economic activity in Hudson.
  • Torn Space Theater’s Neighborhood, a community-wide participatory festival that re-imagines the Broadway/Fillmore neighborhood in Buffalo’s East Side as a vast performance space. TST will use light, video mapping, architecture and sound design to activate the neighborhood and other surrounding areas within Western New York. Broadway/Fillmore is an underserved community with enormous development potential due to architecturally significant assets that include The Central Train Terminal and St. Stanislaus Church. The festival builds on TST’s site-specific theater at Silo City, a campus of abandoned grain elevators.
  • TheaterWorksUSA’s We The People, an expanded tour of a musical revue introducing young and family audiences across all 10 regions of New York State to American civics topics such as the three branches of government, the First Amendment, and the judicial process. At least three free performances will be staged in each region, two in schools and one public performance.
  • Bronx Documentary Center’s 3rd Latin American Foto Festival, the first photography festival in city history devoted to the cultures of Bronx Latin/x community members, will expand significantly. The multi-day, free interdisciplinary Bronx cultural event celebrates the work of contemporary, award-winning photographers from the Caribbean and Latin America. Headquartered at BDC’s new 7,000 sq. ft. gallery space, the festival also includes programming at community gardens, sidewalks, fences, storefront windows, and churches in the “HUB”, the retail and community heart of the South Bronx.
  • Albany Symphony Orchestra’s Trailblaze NY: Arts Connecting Communities on the Trail, celebrating the new Empire State Trail through all-day music and art events across nine counties over five weekends. The festival begins in Troy with four days of new music for orchestra and small ensembles; pop-up events; food and beverage tastings; walking and cycling tours; and composer workshops and reading sessions. With local arts partners, the Festival continues with new art happenings, interactive site-specific trail performances, and free community concerts featuring newly commissioned world premiere performances and summer pops, all in festive block party settings.

A complete list of REDC award recipients is available here.

About the New York State Council on the Arts
The New York State Council on the Arts champions community and creativity by preserving and advancing numerous aspects of the arts and culture that make New York State an exceptional place to live, work and visit.
NYSCA upholds the right of all New Yorkers to experience the vital contributions the arts make to our communities, education, economic development and quality of life. Through its core grantmaking activity, NYSCA awarded $51M in FY2019 to 2,400 organizations statewide through direct grants and regrants in our 15 programs, the Regional Economic Development Council initiative and the Mid-Size Capital Project Fund. NYSCA funding supports the visual, literary, media and performing arts and includes dedicated support for arts education and underserved communities. NYSCA further advances New York's creative culture by convening leaders in the field and providing organizational and professional development opportunities and informational resources.

Created by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1960, and continued and expanded to the present day with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, NYSCA is an agency of the Executive Branch of the New York State Government. For more information on NYSCA, please visit, and follow NYSCA's Facebook page, Twitter @NYSCArts and Instagram @NYSCouncilontheArts.
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