NYSCA REDC Program Open, Up to $5M Available

Regional Economic Development Council Program Now Accepting Applications and Hosting Workshops

On May 2, 2016, Round VI of NY state’s Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) program launched. This year the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) will invest up to $5 million in initiatives across the state’s 10 regions to enhance, transform and increase the cultural and economic vitality of New York State communities. Applications will be accepted from eligible organizations through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) until 4pm, July 29, 2016. For detailed information on the state’s REDC program, please review the CFA Resource Manual (NYSCA funding is featured on pages 32-45). The contract and work period for all REDC grant categories is January-December 2017. NYSCA support is available in three categories:

  1. Arts, Culture and Heritage New Initiatives – Planning

Planning is critical to successful development and implementation of any project and requires collaborative commitment and participation from cross-sector leaders and stakeholders.   Support for planning initiatives is available in the following areas:

  • Comprehensive Arts and Cultural Mapping
  • Arts and Cultural Master Plan
  • Arts and Culture Branding or Marketing Plan

Planning Awards:

  • $10,000 – $49,500
  • No match is required
  • Partnership applications are strongly encouraged
  • MUST encompass a specific neighborhood municipality, county, region or designated cultural or business district

2. Arts, Culture and Heritage New Initiatives – Implementation

Support is provided for new programming initiatives designed to have a tangible economic and community development impact in a community or region.     Support for implementation initiatives is available in the following areas:

  • Erie Canal Bicentennial Celebration
  • Women’s Suffrage Commemoration
  • Past NYSCA REDC Planning Grant Recipients

Implementation Awards:

  • $10,000 – $75,000
  • 50% cash match is required (In-kind services are not permitted)
  • Partnership applications are strongly encouraged.

3. Workforce Investment

Support is designed to expand the capacity of New York State’s arts, culture and heritage organizations. Workforce Investment grants will only support:

  • Wages to increase a current part-time employee’s hours
  • Wages to hire a new full or part-time employee

Support for Workforce Investment initiatives is available in the following areas:

  • Administrative Positions
  • Artistic Positions
  • Arts Career Development Fellowships for Underrepresented Communities
  • Resident Artist Positions

Workforce Investment Awards:

  • Range from $25,000 – $49,500
  • 25% cash match required
  • Cash match may only include a combination of additional salary, fringe benefits and employer paid payroll taxes
  • The applicant’s overall operational budget may not exceed $750,000.
    • Exception: There is no limit on the organizational budget size for applications submitted for the NYSCA Arts Career Development Fellowships for Underrepresented Communities focus area.

REDC CFA Application Workshops From early May through late June, NYSCA staff, along with staff from ten other participating agencies, will present detailed information on its programs to the public at workshops across the state. Please click here for the complete schedule of upcoming workshops. The Regional Economic Development Council’s workshops will provide an overview of the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process and how to access up to $750 million in economic development funding from agency programs through one application. Additionally, there will be informational breakout sessions on specific categories of funding available for economic and community development projects. The workshops are open to local economic development officials, municipalities, non-profits, businesses and members of the public.


For more information on NYSCA’s REDC program, please visit our NYSCA REDC information page.

Diversifying Orchestral Music in New York State: Convening #2

Last week, NYSCA reconvened with leaders in the orchestral and music education fields from all over the state for the second iteration of our discussion, Diversifying Orchestral Music in New York State: New Approaches and Strategies. The meeting was intended to address and rectify the underrepresentation of groups such as African-Americans and Latinos in the field, through education, mentoring, career development and professional opportunities. Also in attendance was Anna Brown, Special Attorney/Global Director of Diversity & Inclusion at the law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP, who shared with us insights about the inclusion of historically underrepresented groups into long established fields. Below are some of the key points we discussed – and stayed tuned for more information about measures NYSCA will be taking to ensure diversity in New York State arts organizations.

Practices and ideas from the corporate law world that we can incorporate:

  • Where to start: Approach different levels at the same time – representation at the board and executive staff level matters, so does what and whom we see onstage. Engagement with audiences, including young people, is essential.
  • It’s the right thing to do and it’s good business. Increasing diversity not only brings a greater wealth of perspectives to the workplace. It can also ensure that your work and your brand reflect your audiences, and that people will identify with your work and want to be involved with you, whether as clients, partners or audience members.
  • Examine where minority groups are dropping out of the profession. Use exit interviews, ideally conducted by an outside party, as a tool.
  • Begin cultivating future employees early – mentorship opportunities in law begin in middle school.
  • The largest impediment, and the most difficult to address, is unconscious bias. As much as possible, we should be examining how and why we form the work relationships that we do – and do not.
  • People want: respect, opportunities to progress, feedback, sponsorship and reinforcement.
  • Look outside of your organizations and industries for new ideas and perspectives.

The following additional points were brought up:

  • The American League of Orchestras provides demographic information that can give all of us in the field an understanding of where we stand collectively and measure up individually.
  • For funders evaluating grant applicants actively working towards inclusion, it may be useful to look closely at the commitment expressed within applications: Why pursue this? Why now? How long have you been having these conversations?
  • Fellowships can be an effective way to nurture talent – but only if they’re created and administered effectively. Make sure fellows are truly integrated into a work culture, that everyone knows who they are and why they are there, that they have someone to talk to, that they are socially and intellectually engaged.

Questions for continued discussion:

  • Resistance to classical music particular to certain communities and universally provides a challenge: what do we do about class associations and unfamiliarity of repertoire and ritual?
  • How can we work collaboratively to: provide progressive opportunities for promising students to become professionally involved and make community concerts meaningful for engagement? One proposal: large organizations conducting outreach may want to look to local organizations who have already built relationships in a community as partners.

Thanks to all who joined us!



Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the designation of Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel as Chair of the New York State Council on the Arts, where she currently serves as Vice Chair.

“Barbaralee has dedicated her career to preserving and enriching cultural life across the state and across the nation,” Governor Cuomo said. “She is a leader whose knowledge, wide experience and energy will help shape our vision for cultural development and advance the future of the arts in New York.”

“It is a privilege and an honor to serve as Chair of NYSCA,” said Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel. “The arts are integral to enhancing New York’s environment and values. I look forward to working with Governor Cuomo to move forward as we build on our past, and continue to develop all of the arts statewide.”

Throughout her career, Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel has served as a leading voice on civic and cultural engagement, having demonstrated a strong commitment to the arts, architecture, design, and public policy across New York City, New York State, and the country.

A former White House staff assistant, in 1966, she became the first Director of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. She later served as the longest-term Commissioner of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission from 1972 until 1987, and from 1987 to 1995, served as Chair of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Foundation. She has served as a member of the New York City Art Commission (now the Public Design Commission) and the New York City Commission of Cultural Affairs for more than a decade.

In 1987, she was appointed by President Reagan to the Board of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and in 1996 was appointed by President Clinton to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, where she later became the first woman to be elected as Vice Chair. In 2009, President Obama appointed her to the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel has served on the boards of a variety of educational, visual, literary, and performing arts institutions, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Visiting Committee for Drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Collection Committee of the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum; the PEN American Center; the New York State Historic Archives Partnership Trust; and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She is the founder and chair of the New York City Landmarks50 Alliance, and a founding member of the Highline, New York City, the Trust for the National Mall and the Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel is the author of 23 books and the curator of eight international museum exhibitions. She earned her doctorate with high honors from New York University, and received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Longwood University, and the Pratt Institute.

The New York State Council on the Arts is dedicated to preserving and expanding the rich and diverse cultural resources that are and will become the heritage of New York’s citizens. The Council believes in supporting artistic excellence and the creative freedom of artists without censure, the rights of all New Yorkers to access and experience the power of the arts and culture, and the vital contribution the arts make to the quality of life in New York communities. NYSCA, serving all 62 counties, strives to achieve its mission through its core grant-making activity and by convening field leaders, providing information and advisory support, and working with partners on special initiatives to achieve mutual goals.


Congratulations to our NYS Poetry Out Loud Champion!

Congratulations to New York State Poetry Out Loud champion Chiara Raimondo!

Raimondo, a senior at Jamestown High School, earned a spot in the National Finals yesterday at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse with recitations of “Bleeding Heart” by Carmen Giminez Smith, “The Pulley” by George Herbert, and “Passing” by Toi Derricote. This was Raimondo’s third year participating in the competition. Her English teacher is Barbi Price.


The runner-up was Maggie Cappozoli-Cavota, a senior at St. Francis Prep, Long Island. There were 24 students in the state final, the winner and runner-up from each of 12 regional competitions.

The final competition will be held May 2 through 4 at the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation competition for high school students that cultivates enthusiasm for literature as well as speaking skills. Winners at the state level receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to the final competition with an adult chaperone. The state winner’s school receives $500 toward the purchase of poetry books. At the national level, a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is distributed.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts. NYSCA supports the New York State chapter in collaboration with Teachers & Writers Collaborative, an organization that works with students and teachers to promote the literary arts.


Diversifying Orchestral Music in New York State: New Approaches and Strategies

DiversityMeetingDiversity is central to NYSCA’s mission, and we are proud to have hosted a meeting on March 8 with organizations from around the state dedicated to making symphony orchestras more diverse. The meeting brought together representatives from various points along the “pipeline” to professional careers in orchestral music, including community music schools, professional symphony orchestras, El Sistema-inspired education programs, youth orchestras, service organizations, conservatories, the American Federation of Musicians, a classical music station and foundations. Among them were the Sphinx Organization, the New York Philharmonic, WQXR, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The meeting was a joint initiative of NYSCA’s Music Program and Arts Education Program, and the discussion looked towards actions to make the classical music world more equitable, inclusive and welcoming. Participants spoke of challenges, successful strategies and new approaches for diversifying both organizations and audiences:


  • The numbers: According to a Sphinx Organization presentation, 88% of orchestra members are white and 7.34% are Asian. Black musicians make up 1.83% and Latino musicians make up 2.42% of orchestral players, numbers well below these groups’ representation in society. Programming is dominated by white composers.
  • Increase Representation. Ultimately, the goal should be achieving greater representation among musicians, staffs and boards; internal cultures of orchestras must actively support this goal.
  • Engage musicians in the programming process to encourage variety.
  • Nurture Talent. Focus on successful mentoring.
  • Open up the audition process: if repertoire shifts are requiring more stylistic versatility and flexibility, acknowledge that with new repertoire and elements such as improvisation.
  • Think “warming up” not “dumbing down” classical music to new audiences by integrating familiar styles or instruments. Example: Rick Robinson of CutTime Productions adapted Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca to a new arrangement that included a beatboxer.


Barriers to diversifying audiences identified included brand identity, community awareness, education and the internal cultures of orchestras.  Participants shared their plans and projects to break these down, including:

  • Engage communities through performances in non-concert hall spaces, from clubs and bars to churches and schools.
  • Reach out to whole families. The Noel Pointer Foundation, for example, has a “parent orchestra,” in which participants learn alongside their children.
  • Go outside. If resources allow, free, public outdoor concerts can be a very effective way to raise awareness and tap into the interests of local audiences.
  • Think big. See engagement as an integrated programming component – not the outreach you do on the side. Rethink repertoire in your main concert series so that it reflects your audience’s backgrounds, tastes and experiences.
  • Don’t give up. Give audiences time to believe in your commitment to a paradigm shift – it may take more than one, two, or three programs to sell tickets when you make changes.
  • Be welcoming. Encourage humor and interaction during performances.
  • Be image-conscious. Increase diversity of images that appear in in your printed materials, social media and website –organically. One way to do this in the short-term is hiring guest artists of color – remember the sold-out Brooklyn Philharmonic concerts with Erykah Badu?  No one should approach you and feel “That’s not for me” or “I don’t belong there.”


How does your organization encourage diversity? Let us know in the comments!