2018 CNY Arts Grants Award Ceremony
By: Ben Verdi, Arts Leadership Fellow
On May 31st, CNY Arts gave out $384,500 in arts regrants to young artists, arts organizations and individual artists all across Central New York. The ceremony was attended by over 220 artists, the CNY Arts staff, board members and New York State Legislators or their representatives at the Doubletree Hotel in Syracuse. The awards were given out for the Young Artist Scholarships, the Decentralization Program and Tier Three Support Projects. And while it is easy to discuss how great it is that many talented individuals in the area now have money to pursue their projects, the aspect of the night that struck me were the words spoken by Senator John DeFrancisco.
The Senator discussed howthat, despite not necessarily be funded, people, especially the young artists, should pursue the arts in their lives. If they have the talent, they should go for, as Senator DeFrancisco joked, they shouldn’t necessarily listen to their parents about pursuing their dreams in the arts, especially when his own daughter did exactly that and is a successful actor in Hollywood. The Senator also told a story of a young man who met with legendary jazz pianist, the late David Brubeck. And while the story was a great example of how talented youth from Central New York can have encounters with individuals that famous and revered, it also reminded me of why organizations like CNY Arts exists; to enable and allow artists to keep going forward with their talents, where they otherwise could not.
While the money awarded at the ceremony was tremendous and great, it was a nice reminder for me for why I take pride in working for CNY Arts; making the arts a possible path for those that want to do so. It should not be a ‘path less taken’ for a selective few but a reliable option for all to undertake, which is made possible by organizations like CNY Arts. To all of the young artists, organizations and individual artists, this a reminder that everyone has the potential to pursue a career to the arts.
Another great aspect of the ceremony was the atmosphere of it all; one of importance for awarding money to these individuals and organizations but an atmosphere of hospitality and genuine community. People had fun at the event, on top of receiving money for their grant checks, and it was a palpable mood throughout the evening. People thoroughly enjoyed themselves because of the appearance of legislators, the ability to meet and greet before and after the event and, most importantly, it was a night to celebrate the artists and groups dedicated to continuing the arts, with or without funded grants.
It was, for me, a great night; finally meeting people I was emailing with for the past few weeks, saying hello to people I have known for a while and just being around these people in my new role. It was an awesome night to experience so early on in my tenure as an Arts Leadership Fellow and I hope I can experience another award ceremony like this soon!