In December 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that more than $761 million in Round IX of New York State Regional Economic Development Council Initiatives (REDC) were awarded to municipalities, non-profits, art and cultural organizations, and museums. 58 museums across New York State received just over $21 million in REDC Initiatives.
Funding to museums included Empire State Development (ESD) Grants, Market New York (MNY), Environmental Protection Fund: Parks, Preservation and Heritage Grants (OPRHP), and New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) initiatives.
Funding to museums by REDC Region
NYSCA’s Arts and Cultural Initiatives
NYSCA’s Arts and Cultural Initiatives funding provides up to $5 million across New York State’s 10 economic development regions. Its purpose is to enhance and transform the cultural and economic vitality of NYS communities. Funding support is broken down into three categories: NY State Arts Impact Awards, Workforce Investment, and Workforce Fellowships.
Workforce investment funding supports the creation of new full or part-time positions as well as the expansion of existing part-time positions to full time. It includes either general full-time or part-time positions, or a resident artist (like a visual artist, folklorist, or choreographer).
The Wild Center received $30,000 from NYSCA Workforce Investment for its Fellowships program. This Fellowship provides job training and experience focused on museum operations, interpretation, and the region’s cultural and natural history. This program helps emerging museum professionals prepare for the next stage in their careers.
Genesee Country Village & Museum received $15,600 in renewed support for an Assistant Preservation Carpenter, a full-time resident artist position, who will demonstrate their craft for visitors, offer community education programs, and assist in the maintenance of the sixty eight buildings on-site.
A $20,000 Workforce Investment was awarded to the Burchfield Penney Art Center who will expand a part-time Curatorial Associate into a full time position. The goal is to enable this position to expand their services to the community and visitors from across New York State and beyond.
The Arts & Cultural Facilities Improvement Program (Arts ACFIP) provides funding for renovations and/or expansions that are open to the public, projects to support sustainable and energy efficient spaces, improvement in accessibility, and improvements to technology and other equipment that benefits the public.
The Hispanic Society of America received $145,000 for a special exhibition gallery helping to renovate its East Building’s ground floor and will focus on juxtaposing its global Hispanic collections with Contemporary Ibero-Latinx art.
In the Finger Lakes, the National Women’s Hall of Fame will use its $145,000 Arts ACFIP Award to restore its iconic Seneca Knitting Mill Smokestack and will focus on making the building accessible while completing the second floor occupancy to celebrate Great American Women.
Market New York
In 2018, New York State tourism grew by $6 billion and generated nearly $155 billion in economic impact. Museums are included in this tourism economic impact and helped contribute to the more than 250 million visitors (https://esd.ny.gov/industries/tourism).
To grow and sustain this economic impact, ESD established Market New York (MNY) to strengthen tourism and attract visitors to New York State. For Round IX of REDC Funding, 18 museums were awarded a MNY grant to support tourism marketing initiatives that include capital and construction projects, fund special events, bring in special exhibitions, and fund tourism marketing campaigns aimed at increasing visitors.
In the Western Region, Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Garden Society received $500,000 to promote their 120th anniversary and their new facility expansion project set to open in 2022 to increase awareness of the Buffalo Botanical Gardens among residents and tourists.
A large glass building is planned for the southwest side of the Botanical Gardens as part of a planned expansion.
(Rendering courtesy of the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens via Buffalo News)
The Brooklyn Historical Society received $169,950 to launch a marketing, advertising, and PR campaign aimed at increasing Brooklyn tourism by expanding its visibility. This campaign will promote two of the Brooklyn Historical Society’s unique sites, a landmark 1881 building in Brooklyn Heights and a 3200 square feet gallery in the Empire Stores building in DUMBO. The Brooklyn Historical Society notes that this project is the most comprehensive campaign of its kind in its 155 year history.
Historic Huguenot Street received $290,000 from Market NY to construct a state of the art visitor center with the goal to increase capacity and enhance the museum as a key attraction in the Mid-Hudson REDC region.
Historic Preservation Funding from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP)
Major funding was also announced for the preservation of historic properties under the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). These historic preservation fund improvements, preservations, rehabilitation and restoration to sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as structural assessments and planning for these projects.
The George Eastman Museum received $600,000 to restore and repair historic garden structures and also will increase accessibility to The Grape Arbor, Pergola, and Loggia.
Other major restoration projects funded in this REDC round was $600,000 to the Oneida Community Mansion House to complete phase I of its exterior rehabilitation project. This work will include repairs to the 19th century roof, drainage, masonry, painting and window restoration.
In Binghamton, the Roberson Museum will use $320,870 for critical restoration work of the windows and trim of the Roberson Mansion and Carriage House.
The Montauk Historical Society was awarded $313,500 to help restore the iconic Montauk Lighthouse and the John Jay Homestead will use funding to protect the historic home from fire by adding a fire safety management plan.
Sonnenburg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Site received $500,000 to build a new entrance and update parking to become ADA compliant.
Increase in Capital Funding
31 museum received nearly $18 million in REDC Capital Funding. These projects include both new and renovations to existing museum building to create great accessibility for visitors, increase capacity, and expand educational and community programs.
The Tesla Science Center on Long Island received $750,000 to transform the only existing laboratory of inventor Nikola Tesla into three unique attractions—a museum honoring Tesla and his legacy, a center for education and research, and an entrepreneur and technologist innovation program.
$276,000 was awarded to the Buffalo History Museum to invest in its guest amenities for a better and more welcoming visitor experience with air conditioning, new seating in their auditorium, and universally accessible guest welcome stations.
Rendering of the Universal Hip Hop Museum on the Bronx/Harlem waterfront by S9 Architecture (photo courtesy Curbed NY)
In New York City, the Universal Hip Hop Museum received $3,500,000 to build and promote a new cultural arts institution and the first museum in the world dedicated to the preservation of hip hop history and culture that will attract visitors and help to further develop the Bronx/Harlem River waterfront. Construction will begin this summer and the Museum is expected to open in 2023.
Year Over Year
2018 v 2019 REDC Capital Funding to NYS Museums
REDC Funding to museums was down by almost $2 million from 2018, however the number of museums awarded increased from 57 to 58. There was also a $3 million increase in capital grant funding through ESD and Market NY Grants.
As funding increases to capital projects to museums across the state, MANY will continue to advocate for additional funding for education and programming in museums.
In October 2019, the Museum Education Act (Bill #6819) was re-introduced by New York State Senator José Serrano. This Act will amend the arts and cultural affairs law in relation to providing financial assistance to museums, zoos, botanical gardens, aquariums, and other cultural institutions located in low-income urban, suburban, or rural communities. The Museum Education Act will create a mechanism to fund programs at New York’s cultural organizations, specifically educational services and strengthen the way museums work within their communities.
For the full list of NYS museums who received REDC funding click here.
For the full list of 2019 Round IX REDC grant recipients please visit: https://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/2019-awards-ceremony