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The REDCs, History and the NYS Council on the Arts

This posts is the third in a series of posts examining the awards approved by the Regional
Economic Development Councils (REDC) from the perspective of the Path through History.

Below is a list of projects which were found based on the term “history” for the search criteria. Although there are not many grants with a specifically historical-focus, the ones that do tend to be funded by New York State Council on the Arts as part of its Culture & Heritage Project Grant. Below are the awards for 2014 by the Council of Arts that are relevant to the history community.

Capital Region: Albany County
Applicant: Albany Institute of History and Art
Project Title: Top 50 Exhibit
Description: Top 50 is an exhibition at Albany Institute of History and Art that presents the top
50 people, places, and events of the Capital Region through historic and fine art objects, imagery and multimedia presentations. The exhibit will also include educational and community engagement programs.
Amount: $60,000

Capital Region: Greene County
Applicant: Greene County Council on the Arts
Project Title: Mainly Greene American Masquerade
Description: The Catskill Mountain Foundation, Greene County Council on the Arts, Masters on Main Street, the Prattsville Art Center & Residency and the Zadock Pratt
Museum will partner to create “American Masquerade” bringing residents from Catskill Mountain towns together with hundreds of visual and performing artists in a yearlong project exploring connections between masked identity through regional history, music, and contemporary art.
Amount: $60,000

Long Island: Nassau and Suffolk Counties
Applicant: Long Island Tradition
Project Title: Changing Tides Exhibits and Tours
Description Changing Tides: Traditional Maritime Culture on Long Island is a series of
programs on Long Island’s south shore that examines the region’s maritime culture and traditional occupations through exhibits, tours and educational programming for audiences of all ages. ‘Changing Tides’ will attract new audiences who value waterfront destinations while supporting local businesses.
Amount: $39,000

Mohawk Valley: Schoharie County
Applicant: Middleburgh
Project Title: Breadbasket Heritage Trail
Description: The Village of Middleburgh will sponsor and create the Breadbasket Heritage Trail. Starting in 2015, the community will build a series of stops along this trail to educate residents and visitors of the Schoharie Valley’s rich and diverse history. A map of the area’s regional historic sites, with literature, will be funded through this grant.
Amount: $15,200

North Country: Hamilton County
Applicant: Adirondack Historical Association
Project Title: The Adirondack Experience Exhibit
Description: The Adirondack Experience will allow visitors to experience life in the
Adirondacks through history with a series of interrelated, hands-on, family friendly exhibitions that reflect current interpretive trends in the history museum field.
Amount $76,000

The awards by the New York State Council on the Arts evidenced here tend to be exhibit oriented. However, one may observe in the Village of Middleburgh the potential for the creation of a path through history. The very wording of the description supports the notion of precisely such a project. The applicant uses the word “trail” (perhaps a carryover from Governor Pataki’s efforts) to showcase the “rich and diverse history” of the municipality complete with a map. I venture to say that every municipality (and neighborhood in New York City) could do the exact same thing. Some municipalities have already such as Hastings-on-Hudson here in Westchester. These local trails easily lend themselves to being incorporated in the school curriculum. The odds are the stops on the trail address many of the time periods, events, and themes in the new social studies frameworks. One can even imagine an app being created for the trail. Wouldn’t that be a great high school senior service project?

I have no idea whether or not the Breadbasket Heritage Trail will beckon out-of-state or foreign tourists nor do I know what local accommodations are available for tourists who do walk/bike/drive the trail. I also don’t know if there will be any connection to any other trails, paths, routes, or historic sites in Schoharie County as part of a larger project.

What I do know is that this is precisely the type of project which the Path through History should be championing not simply for its tourist potential but “to educate residents” as the Village of Middleburgh said in its application. Do we really need to be reminded how important a sense of place, a sense of belonging, a sense of community is to the future of the municipality, the state, and the country? Would we rather our residents didn’t feel connected to where they live?

2 thoughts on “The REDCs, History and the NYS Council on the Arts

  1. I would like to offer my assistance in helping evolve the Breadbasket Trail in Middleburgh. I agree that it screams for Path Through History development. My focus is on the Revolutionary War history of the area. My goal to increase heritage tourism to the Mohawk and Schoharie Valleys. The primary but not sole method is my outdoor drama: Drums Along the Mohawk located in Mohawk, NY. See for plotline and other details.

    I also have been a bicycle tour developer for many years. I have long known about the Timothy Murphy Trail in Schoharie County. It was designated as an Act of Legislature and encompasses all of Route 30. It has a whopping 91 historical markers along the trail. Could this be incorporated as an existing valuable resource into this newly titled Breadbasket Trail?

    Here is a showing of examples of progress to the desired end: We successfully brought a sold out bus tour from Rockland County to our show in 2014 that included an overnight stay in Little Falls and stops at 12 different Mohawk Valley, Schoharie Valley and Capital District historic sites that all had a direct connection to the plotline of the show.

    We were a featured event listed in both the Mohawk Valley Path Through History brochure and web site.

    Our cast was invited to participate in the Glove Theatre’s 100th anniversary year celebration by appearing at their showing of the movie Drums Along the Mohawk in November last year. It represented a recreation of the world premiere of that movie that was held 75 years ago at that very theater in Gloversville, NY.

    I was a guest speaker on one of Bob Cudmore’s last shows on his Amsterdam radio station alerting the local communities of the existence of our show that represents pivotal history of international significance.

    I gave an interpretive voice to Mohawk and Schoharie Valley history told in our show at the West Point Chapter of the Company of Military Historians last November.

    My opinion lends itself to the idea that we take what exists and build on it, not create new, separate things.
    Anyone who would like to share in this vision with me is welcome to contact me at via the web site
    Kind regards,
    Kyle Jenks
    Writer, Producer, Director
    Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama
    Gelston Castle Estate
    980 Robinson Road
    Mohawk, NY
    2015 Perfomances:
    Sat/Sun Aug. 1/2 5 pm
    Sat/Sun Aug. 8/9 5 pm

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