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LI groups awarded more than $1M for arts programs, projects

Long Island Traditions, a Port Washington-based folk arts

Long Island Traditions, a Port Washington-based folk arts nonprofit that helps boat builders demonstrate trades like building skiffs, received $80,000 from the New York State Council on the Arts. Credit: Long Island Traditions

New York State awarded more than $1 million in arts funding to Long Island organizations this year as part of a $41 million grant program, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced.

Thirty-five Long Island groups received a total of $1,065,503 from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state economic development plan, for the 2017 calendar year.

The grants support a wide range of Long Island programs and projects, from library concert programs to woodcarving demonstrations to the Hamptons International Film Festival, recipients said.

“These grants reinforce New York’s role as a global cultural destination, promote learning for all ages, cultivate creativity and build community,” Cuomo said in a Jan. 26 news release.

Throughout the state, 1,230 organizations received $41.26 million in grants.

The Huntington Arts Council, a not-for-profit group that provides arts programming, received the largest award on Long Island, with three grants totaling $309,620. Marc Courtade, the nonprofit’s executive director, said $200,000 of that sum will get redistributed to other artists and programs in Nassau and Suffolk. The rest of the grant funding will support a summer arts festival in Heckscher Park in Huntington and the group’s operating costs, he added.

“Long Island, especially Huntington, is very proud of the arts we have,” Courtade said in an interview. “We’re very fortunate.”

This year, the Arts Council received 117 applications for grants between $500 and $5,000 and expects to announce its award decisions in the next month, Courtade said. Last year, 66 out of 81 groups that applied for the grants received them, including public libraries in Baldwin, Montauk, Wyandanch and Uniondale.

With a population of more than 2.85 million, Long Island was awarded $70,250 less in council funding than in 2016 and had the smallest grant funding of any region in the state, according to state records. Suffolk County-based groups received $768,890 in funding, and Nassau-based groups got $296,613.

By comparison, North Country — the northernmost region with a population of more than 434,000 — was awarded $1,132,485. New York City had the largest grant pot, with $24,626,627.

Even though there was a $74,556 increase in awards granted this year compared to 2016, eight out of 10 regions lost funding this year. The only areas that gained funding were the Mid-Hudson region, with an approximate additional $323,000, and New York City, which received about $954,000 more.

Support for local programs

The Huntington Arts Council is one of 57 groups in the state that will redistribute grants to about 1,200 other organizations, said Ronni Reich, director of public information for the New York State Council on the Arts.

For the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, the grants will help cover administrative expenses and expand the museum’s impact, said deputy director Chris Siefert.

A $49,500 grant will fund a study on how to widen the museum’s customer base and develop a marketing strategy, Siefert said. An additional $32,000 grant, which the museum will receive this year and in 2018, will support operating expenses, he added.

“It’s fundamental for us to be able to participate in that type of opportunity,” Siefert said. “It’s not like we’re going to go away [without that funding], but it makes it more difficult, certainly.”

Nancy Solomon, executive director of Long Island Traditions, a Port Washington-based folk arts nonprofit, said her organization wouldn’t be able to operate without state grants. This year, the group received $80,000 in funding from the New York State Council on the Arts, the third-highest grant award on Long Island.

The money allows the group, which has a staff of three, to employ people who don’t work in the arts — such as fishermen and boat builders — to teach about their way of life and demonstrate trades like building skiffs, Solomon said.

“That’s our way of recognizing these traditions are important to the community and helping ensure a traditional occupation can be passed down to the next generation,” Solomon said.

Even the smallest grant amount can have a big impact, said Herb Strobel, executive director of the Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead. The group said its grant of $3,700 — the lowest on the Island this year — goes toward preserving the area’s maritime heritage by supporting wooden duck-carving demonstrations.

“It allows us to support a local craft artist in ways we normally couldn’t do,” Strobel said.

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