The New York Folklore Society got a nice surprise Monday in the form of a $45,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. That's the good news.
The bad news is that in the proposed budget put forth by the Trump administration in Washington, D.C., there will be little money, if any, provided to local arts groups in the future by the NEA. The Trump budget, if passed by Congress sometime this summer, will go into effect on Oct. 1.
"It's an important issue for us and the rest of the arts world," said Ellen McHale, executive director of the New York Folklore Society, which has been headquartered at its Jay Street office in downtown Schenectady since 2000. "We received this grant for this year, and that was wonderful; it's the biggest grant we've ever received from the NEA. But the proposed budget by the Trump administration basically leaves just enough money to ramp everything down for closure. It's something I'm very concerned about."
McHale said that groups such as the NEA, the National Endowment for Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Institute for Museum and Library Services will all be drastically impacted by the proposed budget.
"Those four agencies do a lot to support the arts, so there are a whole lot of people who are really concerned and worried about the new budget," said McHale. "It's something I'm going to start talking about more in the coming weeks. We have to start a conversation about this."
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu announced Monday that more than $82 million of grant money had been assigned to local arts projects across the U.S. In New York state, the Folklore Society was one of 267 grants handed out totaling $8,548,720.
"The arts reflect the vision, energy and talent of America's artists and arts organizations," said Chu in a press release on Monday. "The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support organizations such as the New York Folklore Society, in serving their communities by providing excellent and accessible arts experiences."
The Folklore Society was one of seven Capital Region organizations to receive a grant. Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown was awarded a $75,000 grant, while other recipients included the Albany Institute of History and Art, $20,000; Opera Saratoga, $20,000; the Media Alliance in Troy, $20,000; Saratoga Performing Arts Center, $15,000; the Skidmore College Jazz Institute, $15,000, and the Lake George Music Festival, $10,000.
The $45,000 grant awarded to the Folklore Society will go to "support statewide technical assistance and professional development services to the folk and traditional arts field," according to the NEA statement.
"We will continue to offer the technical support and professional development we already do," said McHale, "and we are also planning on reaching out to under-served parts of the state. We are working in places like Rochester and Binghamton, two areas that don't have a lot of folk art, and this grant will help us put additional investment into our local communities."
Some of the NEA grants will go toward specific projects planned by an organization. The $20,000 grant to the Albany Institute of History and Art is to support a specific project called "Artists' Voices," which will include filmed interviews with various Capital Region artists whose work is on display at the museum. The $75,000 going to Glimmerglass will help support its production of Doniezetti's "The Siege of Calais," and the $15,000 heading to SPAC will be aimed toward its dance education program called "The Performance Project: Youth in Motion."