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Grant program helps CNY artists, organizations continue to try and rebuild from COVID

2012 Arts and Crafts Festival
Syracuse Downtown Committee
One of the vendors at the 2012 Arts and Crafts Festival.

Artists, arts organizations, and businesses in the City of Syracuse still hurting from the impact of the pandemic have a little less than a week to apply for some funds to help them recover. CNY Arts is administering the $1.25 million in federal pandemic relief funds allocated by the city. Executive Director Steve Butler says despite being open, COVID variants over the winter and into the spring created challenges for many venues.

"Anecdotally, what we're hearing is that attendance was down shows did have to close because a member of the cast caught COVID, and people were more careful about coming to a venue or an exhibit. So the hardship of COVID has continued well into 2022."

Butler says judging from webinar attendance, interest in the Syracuse Arts and Culture Recovery fund is strong, and he hopes it can help artists and organizations continue to rebuild. The deadline to apply is June 6. Those interested in can find more information here.

Meanwhile, CNY Arts is trying to create more exposure for musicians for a global event later this month. It’s called Make Music Day, and has its origins in France dating back to the early 1980’s. Butler says it’s been held around the world in more than 1,000 cities in 120 countries.

"And I thought, oh, how great as we come out of COVID, a celebration of music on the longest day of the year outdoors where people can participate very freely and, and we need such a celebration. Then what I discovered is that there were a number of people inside of the city of Syracuse that had been doing this unofficially on a volunteer basis for a number of years."

Butler says they’re looking for musicians and groups of all ages, disciplines, skill levels, and backgrounds to participate. So far, he says, there’s plenty of interest.

"We have over 30 musicians and groups participating, and a number of venues as parks, and then downtown corners as well."

He says they’re even trying to coordinate with assisted living facilities and nursing homes for “Music in the Windows,” where homebound residents can still hear the music through open windows. More information on Make Music Day can be found here.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at