CNY Arts, Inc.


2020 Wrap Up and a Look Forward

As we look back at the past year, a difficult and challenging year for everyone, we at CNY Arts recognize that we still have much to be grateful for. It’s been just seven months since we created the CNY Arts COVID-19 Arts Impact Fund in response to the art and cultural sector’s urgent need for financial assistance to stay afloat during the pandemic.  Our communities place a high value on arts and culture, but we were still astonished at the level of generous response.

To date, you've help us raise a half million dollars! 

Soon after the pandemic shutdowns began, CNY Arts sprang into action:

  • We initiated a comprehensive survey, created and managed by Research Marketing Strategies (RMS) last spring. Funding for the survey came quickly from the Central New York Community Foundation (CNYCF) and The Gifford Foundation
    • The results of the pandemic on the region’s arts and cultural sector, including the shutdowns necessary to flatten the virus’s curve, were sobering.  Organizations and artists both projected tremendous income losses that could force organizations to make drastic job cuts and still have to close their doors permanently, while artists were being forced into poverty.  

  • Emergency Funds were needed. The Board of CNY Arts and staff responded, laying the groundwork for a Fund Drive to raise critical support. The Allyn Family Foundation convened a group of funders to look at the survey results and then to help CNY Arts move forward. 

  • What began as a modest GoFundMe appeal quickly evolved to a region-wide drive for the arts, the CNY Arts COVID-19 Impact Fund.
    • The Fund was helped in great part by three challenge grants, totaling $175,000, provided by the Central New York Community Foundation, The Dorothy and Marshall M Reisman Foundation, and The John Ben Snow Foundation, that incentivized donors by doubling the impact of gifts.
    • The Central New York Community Foundation also stepped forward with an offer to host the new fund, providing it with more reach and gift capacity.

  • Additional foundations stepped up with funding, including the Allyn Family Foundation, The Gifford Foundation, and the Richard S. Shineman Foundation (View Full List of Sponsors).

  • The William & Mary L. Thorpe Charitable Fund and the MacAllister Fund provided major gifts as well.

  • We are also thankful for government support, especially by County Executive Ryan McMahon and the Onondaga County Legislature.

  • A wide-ranging mix of individual, corporate, organization and foundation donors has already helped us meet more than 85% of our match challenge! Our community has so far given $432,000 in cash donations, plus another $57,000 of in-kind donations, to help save our arts and cultural sector. We are so grateful to all those who have contributed so far. Thank you! (Please see our list of sponsors and individual supporters on the website.)

  • About $232,000 in grants from the fund have already been awarded via an independent panel process to over arts groups and artists in Cayuga, Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego Counties—with more grants going out soon.

We also want to recognize the arts and cultural sector for its amazing resiliency as organizations and artists quickly pivoted to social media and virtual streaming to ensure our citizens had access to the arts that so many turned to for comfort, catharsis, joy and laughter during this past year that was fraught with many challenges and loss.

Now, at the start of this new year, it’s time to set new goal:

  • CNY Arts is working with WCNY to create an arts showcase for this amazing public television station to provide access to arts, culture and heritage while helping shuttered organizations to produce shows and events, creating employment opportunities for artists and arts workers. 

  • CNY Arts is generating a follow- up survey to check in on the health of the sector now that will be used for strategic planning to determine how best to help our industry rebuild, reopen, achieve cultural equity for our diverse stakeholders, and innovate for the “new normal”. 

Yet it is not the time to lose momentum with the Arts Impact Fund!  Most of our arts and cultural groups are still shuttered under the current NYS Reopening Phase; artists are still unemployed. Even as the region re-opens, they will need time and resources to rebuild and innovate as we all face a new reality! 

This reality —thanks to your generous support for the cultural sector —will include the art, music, theater, dance, visual arts, history, and so much more, created by our region’s artists and organizations, weaving that cultural fabric that we all cherish. 

Again, our deepest gratitude to the many champions for the Arts Impact Fund and our best wishes
for a better, healthier, and more art filled 2021!