The Schenectady County Legislature is a firm believer that arts are an important part of any community. Each year, the Legislature sets aside $36,000 for local organizations involved with performing, visual or literary arts.
The County Initiative Arts Grant Program has kept the ball rolling for 22 years and will be continued through 2008-2009.
The program receives its funding from the county’s hotel/motel bed tax, proving just how essential a good night’s sleep is.
The Arts Grant is a payback of respect to Schenectady County’s lively art existence. Its purposes vary, but it’s always well received.
Last year, out of the 35 organizations that applied, 28 received grants. The high percentage of distribution is key to the program’s success. Each individual grant ranges between $1,000 and $3,000.
Susan Savage, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature, made the official announcement of the continuation.
I’m glad that this program is continuing, she said. `These organizations deserve this money for all the great work they do. These grants give them an extra push. Some of these organizations count on this grant money to complete certain projects.
Thanks to the grant, for instance, the US Water Ski Show Team was able to host the US East Regional Water Ski Tournament this past summer in Scotia.
`This was a huge event for the water ski culture. We were able to supply them money for the building of new docks and jumps. We also helped them market the event,` said Wendy Voelker, special events coordinator for Schenectady County.
Jazz on Jay, which took place this past summer in downtown Schenectady, was another product of the grant program. So was the Schenectady Theater for Children, which funded a production this past year with the money.
Other groups that got funding include the concert series at Freedom Park, Boys and Girls Club, Schenectady County Community College Foundation, Empire State Jazz Orchestra, Schenectady County Historical Society at Mabee Farm, Northeast Ballet, and the Schenectady Jewish Community Center and its concert series.
`The art organizations are a key part to the quality of life. Giving money back each year is a normal operation for us. Our goal is to bring people from outside the area in to see the amazing events that take place in Schenectady County. The cultural wealth is wonderful,` said Voelker.
The citizens committee of the Legislature votes on the grant program each year. Although it usually passes, it’s never guaranteed.
`The vote is close at times,` Savage said. `There are some legislators that generally vote against it. Things can get touchy when you’re dealing with money.`
The application process is very detailed. Organizations have to be specific of their money usage. Their projects need to be explained from all angles.
`We need to know how the money will be used, it’s monitored very closely.
Gifts need to be handled with care,` said Voelker.
The program is for organizations in Schenectady County. Proposals must be scheduled to occur between April 1 and March 31, 2009. The deadline for applications is Feb. 8.
Applications can be found online at www.schenectadycounty.com. If you can’t obtain one online, call Voelker at 388-4355 or e-mail [email protected] “