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Syracuse artists apply for final round of grants from Arts and Culture Recovery Fund

Artists participate in a mandatory information session at the Community Folk Art Center Wednesday.
Scott Willis
Artists participate in a mandatory information session at the Community Folk Art Center Wednesday.

Syracuse artists still struggling to rebound from the COVID-19 shut down have a final chance to apply for funding through the city’s arts and culture recovery fund.  CNY Arts is administering the fund, which the city secured from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA. Priority for this final round of funding is being given to individual artists, as opposed to the not for profit or even for profit organizations eligible for round one. Artist Tone Wash says the pandemic crushed his mural and illustration livelihood. Now he’s trying to get back into photography.

"My main concern is that I need prints. In need the prints, I need the means of actually getting these things out there, publicized, and that costs a lot. Coming after the pandemic, I'm trying to get myself on my feet financially so I can make art on a regular basis."

He says the potential grant funding has a dual benefit.

"It's my future, it's what I want to do. Anything that is available, any sort of funding, I want to definitely jump on. Not only to create my own work, but to give back to the community, give back to Syracuse in general."

Meanwhile, Hasan Stephens is hoping to embark on a new venture. He’s perhaps best known for starting the Good Life Foundation, which engages youth in the culture of hip hop.

"We struggled because we didn't want to lay staff off. We lost contracts because of COVID. We lost a significant amount of money because of COVID. For those particular ventures, we did receive PPP (paycheck protection program). This is a great example of additional funds that can help people who've been impacted in different ways."

For this venture, he hopes a grant can boost a clothing line that incorporates music and the arts. David Steinman specializes in drawing, painting, photography, murals and logos. He’s hosted paint and sip classes, where people can try their hand at painting while sipping their favorite adult beverage.

"I'm doing that, but I'm also doing private lessons, too. It's great seeing somebody else get excited about the painting."

He lives in the Gear Factoryon West Fayette Street, with other artists and musicians. Those interested in applying for a grant must have a permanent residential address in the city, and be able to show proof of revenue loss from the pandemic. CNY Arts Regrants Program Manager Brian Lee wants to be able to help as many artists as possible.

"It really depends on how many people end up applying. I know, and I hate that I know there will be a couple that end up being ineligible after they've done all the work putting something in. But, my hope is that everyone gets some amount of what they need."

Artists can apply for two grants, for a maximum award of $20,000. Lee acknowledges the paperwork can be daunting, but he hopes to make the process as smooth as possible.

All applicants must attend an in person information session or webinar.  The next in person session is Tuesday, Sept. 13th at 6 pm at Harlem Knights on South Salina Street.  The application deadline is October 7th.  More information 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