Two LI arts groups to share $312G to boost tourism

Dancers swing and shake during a Winterfest Live Dancers swing and shake during a Winterfest Live on the Vine party on Jan. 17, 2014, at The Suffolk Theater, in Riverhead. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

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Two local arts groups will share $312,000 from New York State to boost tourism on Long Island.

The board of directors of Empire State Development, the state's primary business-aid agency, last week approved grants of $162,000 and $150,000 to the East End Arts & Humanities Council and the Long Island Arts Alliance, respectively.

The funds will reimburse some of the marketing costs incurred by both groups, said Andrea Lohneiss, Long Island regional director for Empire State Development.

The Riverhead-based council plans to use the money to support a series of musical events called Winterfest: Live on the Vine, held at wineries and other East End locations. The concerts seek to increase the number of visitors to the East End during the off-season, in February and March, from about 10,000 currently to 25,000 by 2019, according to the group's funding application.

The grant will help pay for a festival coordinator and reusable banners, flags, signs and other promotional materials.

Winterfest started in 2006 as Jazz on the Vine and now includes performances by blues, country and soul music groups.

This year's Winterfest featured more than 100 concerts.

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The alliance, headquartered in Woodbury, will use its grant for marketing of the Arts Alive LI festival, which showcases arts and cultural attractions in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Arts Alive began in 2012.

The grants were recommended by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, a group of business executives, union leaders and educators appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2011.

Tourism is a $5.6-billion per year industry on Long Island and employs about 51,000 people.

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