This post is the second in a series examining the awards granted by New York State through the REDC process. Initially, I am focusing on the awards granted by I LoveNY through its Market New York program, the funding most directly related to cultural heritage tourism involving New York State history. The analysis is in alphabetical order by regions beginning in this post with the Finger Lakes. My comments on the awards are in italics.
Finger Lakes Region – $80.5 million awarded to 97 projects
Genesee County Chamber of Commerce
Haunted History Trail of New York State – 2017 Initiatives
Grant funds will be used to conduct a conversion/economic impact study for the Haunted History Trail of New York State which is the first and only state-wide paranormal tourism trail in the United States.
The Haunted History Trail is perhaps the only Path through History path supported by I LoveNY. It is a creation of the visitor’s bureau in the county and not by an historic site or coalition of historic organizations. It first was the subject of a post Haunted History Trail and ‘Path Through History’ Failures on April 21, 2014. It received an award of $40,000 for 2014 and $60,000 in for 2015 in a multi-county award. To the best of my knowledge, the Haunted History Trail is the most vigorous, active, and successful effort to create a Path through History path in the state even though it was not what the Governor had in mind in 2012. It demonstrates what a TPA or county tourist department can do if it chooses to take a leadership position on behalf of the history community. For historic sites perhaps the only saving grace is that many paranormal sightings occur in historic sites. As many history organizations know Halloween and cemetery tours are big business and much cheaper than the Haunted Mansion at Disney as I wrote about in Cashing In On Halloween on November 4, 2013.
Livingston – no awards in this category
Campground Owners of New York
Campground Owners of New York (CONY) Marketing Plan
The project consists of 6 multi-media promotional elements that are designed to increase visitation to New York State and CONY campgrounds and RV parks.
Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council
Finger Lakes Vacation Region Simpleview Website
The Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council will use grant funds to develop and implement a new regional website that will offer an improved visitor experience and additionally increase the ability to communicate with ILoveNY.com
New York State Tourism Industry Association
Brand USA NYS International Cooperative Marketing Initiative
New York State Tourism Industry Association (NYSTIA) will use the funds to provide regions with affordable tourism marketing opportunities to create content and promote their destinations in key Markets.
Here we observe one of the shortcomings of the REDC process. It divides the state into regions. In this case we have a state-wide entity competing for regional funds meaning at the expense of truly local organizations. Similar situations exist with regional entities such as for the Erie Canal Corridor and the Hudson Valley which transcend the regional division within the REDC process. There is no provision for state and regional organizations and therefore they are forced to fit into the regional structure.
Rochester Fringe Festival
Rochester Fringe Festival – 2017
Rochester Fringe Festival will use the grant funds to support the development and promotion of two new initiatives for next year’s Fringe (2017). First, being the Fringe’s Erie Canal Celebration and the second new event is the U.S. Premiere of Plasticiens Volants, a cultural coup spanning from western New York State throughout the Finger Lakes Region and beyond, working together with ArtPark.
The Strong – National Museum of Play
International Tourism Marketing for The Strong
Grant funds will be used to expand visitation from U.S., Canadian, and other foreign markets through a comprehensive marketing program that aggressively leverages The Strong and promotes it and the Finger Lakes Region.
Constellation Brands Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center
CMAC Improvements Phase 1
The Friends of CMAC Inc. will complete Phase I renovations of the performance venue including painting of the performance shell, dressing room and backstage upgrades and new restroom facilities. The project will allow CMAC to enhance its visitor experience, increase attendance and maintain it as the premier performing arts center in the region.
National Womens Hall of Fame
Center for Great Women
Funds for this project will be used to support the adaptive rehabilitation of the historic 1844 Seneca Knitting Mill and transform and re-use the empty and dilapidated Mill into the Center for Great Women – the headquarters of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, drawing visitors not only to Seneca Falls, but also to the attractions within the Finger Lakes Region and across New York State.
During the first Women’s Suffrage Centennial conference in 2015, I had the opportunity to see and hear about the plans to rehabilitate this facility. Eventually it should make a great starting point for a Women’s Rights Path through History.
Wayne – no awards in this category
Wyoming – no awards in this category
Yates – no awards in this category
As far as the Finger Lakes region is concerned, even ignoring all the other award categories, the primary marketing emphasis is on recreation, arts, and ghosts with the potential of a Woman’s Rights Path through History in the future.
Long Island Region – $62.0 million awarded to 101 projects
LGBT Network Pride on the Beach!
The LGBT Network is partnering with the City of Long Beach to produce “Pride on the Beach,” a “3-day destination Pride celebration” leveraging Long Island’s beaches as a natural asset to stimulate out of-state tourism.
National Audubon Society, Inc
Theodore Roosevelt Audubon New York Center for Long Island Conservation
Grant funds will be used to improve the Sanctuary facilities in order to create a state-of-the-art facility that will engage people in the protection of the Long Island ecosystem for the benefit of birds, visitors, the surrounding communities and the overall region.
Town of North Hempstead
North Hempstead Beach Park Promotion Campaign
The North Hempstead Beach Park is a popular destination which suffered considerable damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and as repair projects have completed, the Town seeks to promote three regional summer festivals. Togather (sic) these festivals will attract more than 15,000 visitors from within Nassau County and the broader Long Island/NYC region to celebrate culture, music, and outdoor recreation.
Suffolk – no awards in this category
The AMC show Turn has been the subject of several posts by me and others. At the New York State History Roundtable, May 29, 2014, State Legislator Steve Englebright chastised New York for doing nothing about the American Revolution show centered in Long Island but filmed in Virginia and with Virginia advertising tourists to visit Virginia to see American Revolution history. A Report from The NYS History Commission Roundtable At the annual meeting of the Greater Hudson Heritage Network on October 16, 2015, Ken Jackson, in his plenary address also mocked the failure of the Path through History project using this example. He was a member of the now-defunct Path through History Advisory committee as reported in RIP The Path Through History Taskforce. When the story switched locales to the Hudson Valley due to the actions of Benedict Arnold and John Andrė, New York lost another opportunity to market itself nationwide, the subject of another post as reported in AMC Mocks the Path through History. Here is where leadership makes a difference. Sometimes it is not enough to wait for the grassroots to get its act together. Maybe if there are ghosts in the American Revolution sites something would happen.
Mid-Hudson Region – $83.3 million awarded to 105 projects
Dutchess – no awards granted in this category
Hudson River Partners
Marketing The Historic Thayer Hotel at West Point to Drive Tourism to the Hudson Valley
The Thayer Hotel at West Point will implement a regional tourism marketing plan to increase tourism and travel to the Hudson Valley to extend travelers’ overnight length of stay and increase visits to regional tourism attractions.
What do you see as an underutilized historical resources in Orange County?
“In a County full of major historic attractions — West Point, Goshen Racetrack, National Purple Heart Museum, Washington’s Headquarters — there are also many out of the way, small, local historic attractions that deserve our attention. One such place is in my constituency of the Village of Walden, where you will find the Jacob T. Walden Stone House. Built in the 1730s, it is the oldest home in Walden and also one of the oldest houses remaining in Orange County. Jacob Treadwell Walden, a successful shipping merchant, resided there with his family beginning in the 1820s. Today, the home houses the Walden Historical Society, and is open to the public as a museum on a limited basis.”
Orange County Legislator
(Orange County Historian Newsletter, October 17, 2016)
Speaking of the absence of American Revolution Paths through History, what hotel is better situated to be the epicenter of such paths than one located on the grounds of West Point. I have had meetings there as part of IHARE’s American Revolution Teacherhostels/Historyhostels, week-long programs visiting sites in the Hudson Valley. Perhaps what is needed is to get hotels involved in creating paths through history since tourists would be staying there. Come to think of it, isn’t that what Elderhostel did? The attendees at the kickoff meeting in January 25, 2013 for the Mid-Hudson Region Path through History called for using Elderhostel as a benchmark for creating paths, constructive advice never followed as reported in A Fork In The Path Through History.
Putnam – no awards granted in this category
Rockland – no awards granted in this category
County of Sullivan
Sullivan County OW Rail Trail Project
Sullivan County will use the grant funds to advance work being done to complete the 50-mile stretch of the OW Rail Trail that traverses the County to create a continuous trail that links to businesses and amenities in 9 hamlets and 2 villages, maximizing the impact of main street economic development, streetscape and community renewal projects in its host communities.
Once again I LoveNY is funding a non-history trail. I think if I read about funding for a history trail I would pass out in shock. Sullivan is putting its tourist hopes in one casino basket. Maybe that will bring back the golden age of the Catskills, maybe not. In the meantime, I attend the annual Catskill Conference in Liberty and I know that a Catskill Path through History could be created. Short bus tours have been given for years. Consider this lecture notice:
Lecture about the Red Apple Rest
“Red Apple Rest” with Elaine Freed Lindenblatt
If you have ever stopped at the Red Apple Rest, the landmark restaurant is about to return the favor. Author Elaine Freed Lindenblatt will be here with the inside story of her family’s colorful eatery. Take a 50-year armchair ride back along NY Route 17 and learn what it was like to grow up in a round-the-clock family business that served over one million customers annually. Elaine’s book “Stop at the Red Apple” will be available for sale and signing.
About Elaine Freed Lindenblatt: Elaine Freed Lindenblatt is the youngest daughter of Reuben Freed, a Russian immigrant who turned his roadside stop into the celebrated Red Apple Rest. Elaine is an editor and writer whose essays on topics ranging from slice-of-life to the Holocaust are widely published in Hudson Valley newspapers. She calls her book Stop at the Red Apple the story I had to tell.
How about a Sullivan County Path through History physical bus tour instead of just an armchair ride?
Ulster – no awards granted in this category
City of White Plains
White Plains Market NY
White Plains Market NY is a project that employs strategic marketing to promote a calendar of diverse events, by contracting with a production company to elevate the quality and excitement of the events, in order to draw tourists to White Plains and the overall Mid-Hudson Region.
Greater Hudson Heritage Network
Regional Pathfinder Project
Funds will be used to produce a comprehensive plan of furthering the Hudson Valley/Catskills Region Path Through History project, by uniting our region in advancing heritage tourism and providing training and programming templates.
I confess that this award is my favorite. It is the one award in all the REDC 2016 awards that mentions the Path through History. Regular readers of my posts may recall that I recommended the creation of Pathfinders, people who would have the job of creating revenue-generation Path through History tours. The Greater Hudson Heritage Network accepted my suggestion and submitted an application to the Mid-Hudson REDC in 2015. It was accepted by the region but rejected at the state level. There was no budget line for a cooperative collaborative effort. This reduced and small-scale grant represents the successful second attempt to try to actually develop Path through History programs that will generate revenue.
Historic Hudson Valley
Philipsburg Manor Bridge and Wharf
Historic Hudson Valley (HHV) proposes a shovel-ready project that will complete restoration of Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow.
Historic Hudson Valley
Fall Tourism Special Event
Grant funds will be used to promote The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, a 32 night event in October and November 2017, which is the largest ticketed Halloween event in the tri-state area. A walk-through land art installation at Van Cortlandt Manor, one of Historic Hudson Valley’s five National Historic Landmark sites, will showcase the best of the Hudson River Valley: artistry, history, and culture.
Last year, when Governor Cuomo had his regional contest for extra funding, the Mid-Hudson region proposed a “Napa East” program to promote the region as a tourist destination. The region lost the competition; it also seems to have lost the desire. While there are bits and pieces in the awards here consistent with such a goal, there is no visionary award towards fulfilling it. In the meantime, Halloween is boffo at the box office as Historic Hudson Valley well knows. Maybe it should change the name of its organization since the money isn’t in history.
For the history community, so far in the awards reviewed the picture is grim. Other sectors are better organized to advocate on their behalf. People in leadership positions at the county, regional, and state level gravitate towards other areas. If the history community wants a seat at the table in the room where it happens (to borrow phrases from the musical Hamilton, then it needs to up its game. That means meeting with representatives. That means abandoning the I LoveNY press release show-and-tell programs for town hall meetings where the history community asks the questions and I LoveNY can’t simply stick to a script or leave abruptly.