Bucky Seiden, left, recipient of an arts education grant, shows off her plans to help Chazy Central Rural School students create a mosaic for the Plattsburgh Airport with help from Chazy High School art teacher Margaret Gruetzmacher.
PLATTSBURGH — The North Country Cultural Center for the Arts hosted its first annual Decentralization Grant Awards Ceremony on Friday, March 8.
More than 140 people gathered in the art center’s main gallery to support the 27 grant recipients, who hailed from Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties.
The awards were distributed by NCCCA executive director Janine Scherline and NCCCA Grant Administrator Kathleen Recchia, but since funding from New York State has yet to come in, the recipients weren’t handed checks.
The ceremony represents the first time the NCCCA has been tasked with divvying up the Decentralization Grant, which is provided by the New York State Council for the Arts.
“It’s money from the state, but they’re sending it to local art centers to distribute,” Recchia said.
The awards were divided into three categories: community arts, arts education and individual artist.
Recchia said seminars were held to help applicants correctly fill out the necessary paperwork, and a volunteer-comprised panel of representatives from the three counties voted on whom to give the money to.
Community arts applicants, of which seven were selected, could request up to $5,000, arts education applicants, of which 19 were selected, could request up to $2,400, and individual arts applicants, of which one was selected, had a flat amount of $2,500.
The grant winners were divided into several categories, with some getting most or all of what they requested and others getting a percentage of their requested amount.
Five percent of the grant also had to be set aside in case of an appeal, which can occur if a clerical error can be proved.
The grants awarded spanned a multitude of artistic disciplines, including theatre, music and painting.
“I live in Jay, in Essex County, and I’m just thrilled to see artists from all three counties getting together,” Recchia said. “I think it’s great for us to partner, because now that we’re all under one umbrella we can do that.”
The ceremony not only brought artists together, it also brought in two representatives of New York state government—Assemblywoman Janet Duprey and Congressman Bill Owens.
Duprey lauded the efforts of different arts groups around the region, and promised to contact the State Council on the Arts and the State Comptroller’s Office to figure out how to expedite the process.
”It’s the volunteers who are getting this done,” Duprey said. “Every time I stop at one of these great exhibits, not only do I realize that we have amazing volunteers, but we also have incredible talent at every level.”
Owens, whose daughter-in-law, Emily Owens, is the Education Coordinator at the NCCCA, agreed with Duprey.
“The people are coming together to accomplish good things for the rest of us,” Owens said. “This is one of those good things. We are establishing an arts center that every community needs and I look forward to continuing to support this endeavor.”