Monthly Archives: December 2016

NYSCA 2016 Holiday Arts Guide

Traveling in New York State this winter, or looking for holiday-themed music, dance, theater and special events close to home? Check out the NYSCA 2016 Holiday Arts Guide to find out what’s going on in all regions of the Empire State!


NYSCA December Council Meeting: Part 2


NYSCA Executive Director Mara Manus and Chair Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel

On December 6, NYSCA held its final Council Meeting of the year to vote on funding recommendations in our State & Local Partnerships, Music, and Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) Programs.

The REDC Program includes projects that contribute to the growth of their communities in three categories: New Initiatives – Planning, which encompasses plans for cultural districts, arts and cultural mapping, and marketing plans intended to encourage cultural tourism; New Initiatives – Implementation, which this year includes initiatives devoted to the Erie Canal Bicentennial and the Women’s Suffrage Centennial as well as previously approved planning projects; and Workforce Development, which expands the capacity of organizations through new and expanded positions as well as Arts Career Development Fellowships for Underserved Communities.


Juilliard Jazz Chair and Associate Director Aaron Flagg

The Fellowships, new this year, were created as a result of this year’s Diversifying Orchestral Music in New York State Convenings. Aaron Flagg, Chair of Juilliard Jazz, who spoke at the convenings, joined us again for the Council Meeting.


NYSCA Program Officers Kavie Barnes and Orin Chait enjoy holiday refreshments

Following the voting recommendations, NYSCA staff and Council shared in a holiday party — and we wish you Happy Holidays, too!

NYSCA December Council Meeting: Part 1

Today, NYSCA held its final Council Meeting of 2016 in order to vote on Multi-Disciplinary Arts Committee recommendations, including funding in our State and Local Partnerships, Music and Regional Economic Development Council Programs. The meeting took place at NYSCA’s office from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. and can be seen via webcast here.


Aaron Flagg, Chair and Associate Director, Juilliard Jazz, spoke about NYSCA’s Diversifying Orchestral Music in New York State Convenings (pictured right, NYSCA Chair Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel). Out of these convenings, a new opportunity for arts fellowships for members of underrepresented communities was created through our REDC program as part of the Workforce Investment category.

Stay tuned for the results, and more photos!

#NYSCASuccess: How the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Hit Its Stride

#NYSCASuccess is a new feature created to share our grantees’ stories – as well as five lessons from each to help all of us build stronger organizations and a stronger community.


Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Kleinhans Music Hall, Courtesy of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

Invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall? Check.

Editorial in regional newspaper celebrating a “cultural gem?” Check.

Balanced budget? Drama-free contract negotiations? GRAMMY Award? Check, check, and two checks on that last one.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has hit an undeniable stride. This year, the orchestra signed a six year contract, and music director JoAnn Falletta is contracted until 2021. In 11 of the past 12 years, the orchestra has balanced its budget. For 30 years, the orchestra has been a NYSCA grantee, receiving funds through our Music and Regional Economic Development Council Programs.

Yet, like many – if not all – arts organizations, the orchestra has had its share of high and low notes.

The orchestra faced fiscal challenges throughout the 90s and at one point was even “for sale” according to a classified ad. While the orchestra’s turnaround has been multifaceted, there’s one clear indicator of how it founds its current path: In 1998, JoAnn Falletta joined the orchestra as music director. She is now its longest-serving maestro.

“Maestro Falletta’s role in shaping the orchestra’s current position cannot be overstated,” says Executive Director and NYSCA panelist Dan Hart. “Since her arrival, she has continued to deliver exceptional programming and drive the orchestra to new artistic heights. During her tenure, the organization has achieved unprecedented community visibility and support, regained public confidence and expanded audiences.”


Note:  Since this video was created, the BPO’s Board Chair and Concertmaster have changed. The Chair is now Stephen Swift and the Concertmaster is now Dennis Kim. Photo Credit: JoAnn Falletta leads the BPO with pianist Lang Lang, photo by Enid Bloch.


In 2004, the BPO created a plan to grow its endowment, and in 2011, the BPO’s management and Board of Trustees developed a long-range financial plan that focused on controlling costs and creating new programs and repositioning programs to increase earned revenue.

Today, the orchestra performs programs ranging from masterworks to family concerts, new commissions and collaborations with local theater, dance, rock and visual artists. Through a partnership Falletta developed with the Naxos label, the BPO regularly records, and in 2009, earned two GRAMMYs for a recording of John Corigliano’s Mr. Tambourine Man.

Hart singles out three qualities key to Falletta’s leadership: civic investment, vision to move the organization forward through innovation and collaboration, and ambition to realize that vision and inspire others to work toward a common goal – such as engagement with the orchestra’s home city.

“Many of our programs are designed with Buffalo at the core. Programs for our Youth and Family concerts have focused on local history, such as the Erie Canal, the Underground Railroad and our burgeoning immigrant population,” said Hart. “We also have a CD of commissioned works called Built for Buffalo. We are very eager to continue to feature this region’s rich culture, architecture and history whenever possible.”


Do you have a #NYSCASuccess story to share? Let us know in the comments or at


News from the Field

Read on for updates on .art websites, creative placemaking, and more.

How to Do Creative Placemaking

“In its ongoing commitment to producing resources for community engagement with the arts, the National Endowment for the Arts has published How to Do Creative Placemaking: An Action-Oriented Guide to Arts in Community Development. The book features 28 essays from thought leaders active in arts-based community development as well as 13 case studies of projects funded through the NEA’s creative placemaking program, Our Town. Concurrent with the publication of How to Do Creative Placemaking, the NEA, Kresge Foundation, ArtPlace America, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Partners for Livable Communities, are presenting Creative Placemaking: The Role of Arts in Community Development, a convening hosted by the Wilson Center on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 from 1:00 – 6:00 PM ET. Registration is free and accessed through the Wilson Center. Key sessions will be livestreamed also at the Wilson Center website. You can follow the conversation on Twitter at #creativeplace.”

In Accepting the Grawemeyer Award, a Call for Diversity in Concert Halls

“The American composer Andrew Norman has been awarded the 2017 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition — one of the most important contemporary music prizes, which comes with a $100,000 award — for “Play,” his rollicking, gaming-influenced orchestral work.” In an interview on National Public Radio, he said, “If I get more commissions, great, but maybe I can use this moment to talk about things that are important to me…Like to call attention to the fact that there are problems. For instance, this award has been given to three women out of its 30-year history…And in all honesty, I’m a white man and I get lots of commissions and there are systemic reasons for that, reasons we should all be talking about…The canon is so overwhelmingly white and male, but we can use new music to fix that problem. There are so many voices who should be heard in the concert hall today, of people whose music reflects a wide variety of experiences. That, to me, is the most important issue right now for contemporary classical music and classical music generally — how to get what happens in the concert hall to reflect the diverse society that we are”

New .ART Domain Launches With Dozens of Early Adopter Museums and Institutions On Board

“The first internet domain dedicated to the global art community, .ART, is now active and has more than 60 well-known museums and arts organizations on board, according to a statement from London-based .ART. Included in the list are The Art Institute of Chicago, Centre Pompidou, Fondation Cartier, Hauser & Wirth, Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, LACMA, MAXXI, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Walker Art Center, and Tate.” Domains will be available to the general public in summer 2017. 

Tim Robbins’s Prison Improv Classes Make Inmates Less Likely to Re-Offend

“You can imagine how this idea was received 10 years ago, but here’s the pitch: A tenacious British actress teams up with Oscar winner Tim Robbins to bring acting classes to maximum-security prisons…Fundraising was a slog. Correctional officers pushed back… The recidivism rate in the state is more than 50 percent. But a recent preliminary study by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation showed that, for inmates who completed the Prison Project, that number dropped to 10.6 percent…Governor Jerry Brown approved a $6 million line item in California’s 2016–2017 budget earmarked specifically for Arts in Correction, a partnership between the CDRC and the California Arts Council, up from $2 million the previous year. And in 2017, all 35 prisons in California will have at least some kind of publicly funded arts program — up from exactly zero a decade ago…Beyond recidivism, the Actors Gang Prison Project work has led to a nearly 90 percent reduction in behavioral infractions for participants, one of the unexpected effects the program has had outside of class.”



NYSCA in the News

This week, NYSCA grantees announce new seasons and showcase women’s creative achievements. Also of note: a baby Redwood forest and a new museum app!

Bristol Valley Theater: Celebrating women’s voices on stage


Bristol Valley Theater has announced the lineup for its 2017 summer season along with an initiative to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the women’s suffrage movement in New York. Each of the six productions that will be performed has been written by a female playwright. The season includes “Murder Ballad,” with book and lyrics by Julia Jordan and music and lyrics by Juliana Nash, “Art,” by Yasmina Reza and translated by Christopher Hampton, a Tony award winner for best play, Beth Henley’s Pulitzer prize-winner “Crimes of the Heart,” “Lucky Stiff,” with book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, Next is “Elijah,” Part of Bristol Valley Theater’s New Works Initiative, and Lauren Gunderson’s “Silent Sky.”Constellation Brands returns as the season producer and Canandaigua National Bank as the associate producer of the 2017 summer season, which is also sponsored in part by funds from the New York State Council on the Arts. NYSCA supports BVT through our Theatre and Arts Education Programs.

Miniature forest of 4,000 baby trees pops up in Brooklyn


“NYC’s concrete jungle is now home to a little slice of California’s Redwood forests. Installed in partnership with the Public Art Fund and Forest City Ratner Companies, Spencer Finch‘s Lost Man Creek recreates a 790-acre section of Redwood National Park in the middle of Downtown Brooklyn’s bustling MetroTech Commons using 4,000 baby Dawn Redwood trees. Lost Man Creek transforms a 4,500-square-foot section of the eastern lawn at MetroTech Commons into an undulating miniature forest. A 1:100 scale recreation of an actual section of Northwest California’s Redwood National Park, the living installation comprises thousands of Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) trees ranging from one to four feet in height. Dawn Redwoods are the shortest of all redwood trees, and adult specimens can grow to be 70- to 100-feet tall…Lost Man Creek opened in October of 2016 and will be on display free to the public through March 11, 2018.” NYSCA supports the Public Art Fund through our Visual Arts Program.

Your Guide to a Met Opera Milestone

New York Times

On December 1, the Metropolitan Opera opens Kaija Saariaho’s “L’Amour de loin,” the first work composed by a woman presented by the house since 1903. Also of importance: “Even as the Met has slowly modernized its offerings in recent years, it still does far less contemporary opera than major European companies. And “L’Amour de Loin,” which had its premiere at the Salzburg Festival in Austria in 2000, has since become one of the most acclaimed and widely performed works of the 21st century…Ms. Saariaho, working with the writer Amin Maalouf, created a stylized version of the life of…12th-century troubadour Jaufré Rudel. A wealthy prince in Aquitaine, Jaufré is tired of his dissolute aristocratic life and, spurred by a pilgrim’s tale, falls in love with someone he’s never met: Clémence, the Countess of Tripoli. He avoids meeting her, though, fearing that that would ruin the purity of his “amour de loin” (“love from afar”).” NYSCA supports the Metropolitan Opera through our Music Program.

Find the Whale and the Bathroom With the Natural History Museum App

New York Times

The American Museum of Natural History has a way of provoking visitors’ questions – and now there’s an app for that. For iPhone and Android, the free app offers “lots of fun facts, videos and teaching tools for some 70 of the most compelling items on display. Called Explorer, it explains “how the 16-foot-wide sequoia slice was fitted through the 12-foot museum doorway (a pie wedge was cut out to squeeze it through and then restored, along seams that are still visible). It tells you that at up to 400,000 pounds, the blue whale weighs as much as about five subway cars, making it the planet’s largest animal.” Explorer, which cost $2.75M, also serves as a teaching tool and a GPS-like guide through the museum. NYSCA supports AMNH through our Museum, Electronic Media & Film, and Facilities Programs.

Eugene O’Neill in a Drill Hall: Park Avenue Armory’s New Season

New York Times

“Works by Eugene O’Neill, Ai Weiwei and Pierre Boulez are on tap for the 10th season of performances at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan — the first one programmed by its new artistic director, Pierre Audi…O’Neill’s “The Hairy Ape,”…runs from March 25 through April 22 and will reimagine a similar production from the Old Vic in London last year. Bobby Cannavale (“Boardwalk Empire”) will star as Yank… “Hansel and Gretel” …an installation created by Mr. Ai and the Pritzker Prize-winning architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron — will be on view from June 7 through Aug. 6. The site-specific work will treat the drill hall as a public space, with an eye toward exploring what that means in a world of increasing surveillance. Next fall, Ensemble Intercontemporain and the conductor Matthias Pintscher will present a rare concert of “Répons,” by Mr. Boulez…As previously announced, the season opens in December with the American premiere of Julian Rosefeldt’s “Manifesto,” a video installation that reimagines famous manifestos as soliloquies delivered by Cate Blanchett.” NYSCA supports the Park Avenue Armory through our Presenting and Arts Education Programs.