Subscribe to the IHARE Blog

REDC Funding Cycle Begins: Start Your Cultural Heritage Tourism Proposals

U.S. Civil Rights Trail (

It’s that time of the year again. It is time to start preparing your proposals for the 2018 version of Hunger Games (see REDC: Funding “Hunger Games” Where History Is the Loser). However this time, I suggest the history community try something different.

To begin with, as a resident of the Hudson Valley, I received a notice of an upcoming public meeting on April 26 by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC). The meeting was to be held at Resorts World Catskills in Monticello. That was a bit far to drive for a one-hour meeting so I passed. The location is significant. As we all know casinos are the saviors of the upstate New York economy. Each and every one which has opened has done blockbuster business in excess of expectations and transformed the surrounding region. Putting aside the alternate reality facts that are so in vogue these days, and back in the real world, there is an important lesson to be learned from casinos. They reflect the mindset of the people in power who make decisions about the allocation of funds in the current cycle. The importance to the REDC of history and civics for the benefit of the social fabric and for creating healthy communities where people would want to live and establish business is nil.

So let’s talk dollars and cents. To begin with there will be $750 million in state economic development resources available to fund regional economic development projects through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process. Using my region as an example, there will workshops and information sessions scattered throughout the region from the opening of the application process on May 1 (now passed) to the close on July 27 at 4:00 PM.

Again, using my region as an example, resources are available on the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council’s website ( and similar urls exist for the other regions. The resources of importance are:

Typically the history community applies for funding for their own organization and to state entitles like NYSCA and NYSOPRHP. By all means, continue to do so. In this post, I would like to suggest something bigger involving collaboration and cooperation.

Earlier this year I wrote about the Civil Rights Trail which opened on January 1, 2018 (The Confederacy Trumps New York on Civil Rights Tourism). The Trail now includes 114 locations in 14 states in the South. The project was initiated by the southern equivalents of the New York REDC. Those REDC’s decided developing and promoting cultural heritage tourism was beneficial AND PUT THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR MOUTHS WERE. They didn’t simply talk the talk of cooperation and collaboration, they walked the walk. Teams were created combining the history community, scholars, and the state tourist departments to develop paths through civil rights history for tourists to actually use. Alabama took a leadership roles. I realize what I just wrote may sound like science fiction or a glimpse into an alternate reality based on the New York experience, but I assure you it all happened in the real world…and I am still delusional enough to think it can happen here.

Since I wrote about the Civil Rights Trail there have been some new developments. The Trail was featured in the Sunday Travel section of the New York Times (4/29/18). According to Lee Sentell, the director of the Alabama tourism department and who oversees the Trail, they expect visitation of 5 million people this calendar year. Just to make sure you read the number correctly that is 5,000,000. That’s a lot of people. The estimated tourist spending from the Trail is $725 million, that’s $725,000,000. That’s a lot of money. Puts the path through History to shame. Do you think New York will ever catch up to Alabama?

One of the overarching goals was to link together a whole host of historic sites instead of having each one fend for itself. As Sentell said:

The whole purpose is to elevate this group of mostly modest locations, churches and schools where significant events in American history happened, that for the most part have not had a great deal of local support.

Remember when cooperation and collaboration were the buzz words of the Path through History project except there was no funding to actually cooperate and collaborate?

South Carolina added a twist to the Trail by creating in 2017 a site for the Negro Green Book. This compilation was discussed in some political posts I wrote which I don’t send to the history community (see Negroes and the American Dream: Hidden Figures, Open Dreams).  In effect it served as the AAA from 1936 to 1966 listing where it was safe for Negroes to lodge throughout the country. It ceased around the same time as Negro was replaced by African-American.  The South Carolina website created by the African-American Heritage Commission contains over 300 locations. It also has suggested tours by various topics so you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself. Here in New York we have the Amistad Commission (see The New York State Amistad Commission: Do Black Lives Matter?) and the Path through History. Do you think New York will ever catch up to South Carolina and Alabama?

The article also mentioned two tour groups. I presume as part of the unrolling of the Civil Rights Trail there were some familiarization tours. One of the two tour companies mentioned specializes in custom itineraries. Do we have such tour operators who create custom itineraries based on the themes in the Path through History?

The other tour operator was Road Scholar. When the Path project began, the Hudson Valley region first met on January 25, 2013 (see A Fork In The Path Through History). The attendees, myself included, were asked to benchmark what they would like to see as a model for how the Path project should operate. The answer was Elderhostel. Since I “borrowed” the terms “Teacherhostel” and “Historyhostel” from that organization, I was quite pleased to hear that the history community supported programs like the ones I was doing mainly for teachers: multiday programs to multiple historic sites that combined talks, walks, and tours.

Years later, Elderhostel changed its name but not its programs. Here are some of the New York programs which could be considered Paths through History:

Historic Mansions on the Hudson River (The Warwick Conference Center)

Go back in the past to explore the tasteful but opulent grandeur of the Hudson River mansions that belonged to America’s wealthiest families of the Gilded Age. With historians and local experts, explore the grounds, houses and gardens of six mansions, including prominent wealthy names such as Rockefeller, Livingston, Vanderbilt, Roosevelt, Gould and Mills. Journey up and down the beautiful Hudson River Valley, and learn the story of these families and relive the culture of the Gilded Age with artful instruction by local experts.

The Roosevelts: The Life and Legacy of Franklin and Eleanor (Mount Saint Mary College)

Dive deep into the world of the Roosevelts as you visit their Hudson Valley home, attend lectures at the FDR Presidential Library and discover their haunts along the Hudson River.

The Hudson River Valley: A Landscape That Defined America (Mount Saint Mary College)

The Hudson River Valley has been called the landscape that defined America. Join us to explore its nationally significant cultural and historic heritage with expert background presentations and field trips to iconic sites such as New Paltz’s historic Huguenot Street, one of the nation’s oldest, featuring seven unique stone houses dating to the early 1700s, a burial ground and a reconstructed 1717 stone church.

Iroquois Culture: Yesterday and Today (Watson Homestead Conference & Retreat Center)

The Iroquois Confederacy, established in the 1400s, united warring Indian nations and established peace in fertile glaciated valleys and mountains of upstate New York. Learn about the legacy of this remarkable culture as you meet members of the Iroquois community and embark on field trips to important sites in Iroquois history. Journey to Ganondagan State Historic Site for presentations by Iroquois educators on their history and culture, and gain a new perspective on Iroquois influences in American representational governance and environmental stewardship.

These examples show it is possible to create Path through History tourism at least for one college and some conference centers.

So here are my recommendations for funding requests by you for this year.

Apply for funding to I LoveNY through its $15 million Marketing NY bucket in the REDC.

Apply for funding to replicate what the South did for its Civil Rights Trail. For example, in the Mid-Hudson Region, the application could be for the American Revolution in the Hudson Valley or Hudson River Art. There is no provision for statewide grants so it is not possible to apply for funding for the American Revolution in New York; each region would have to apply on its own. Pick a theme that works for you.

Apply for funding in partnership with TPA/County Tourism Department or with the TPAs of your region as appropriate.

Apply for funding in partnership with a college in your county and/or region which can assist in the research but leave open the option to draw on scholars from outside your geographical area.

Apply for funding to conduct familiarization tours with tour operators once the sites are identified and possible itineraries are created.

Apply for funding to develop the website, apps, and promotional materials needed to make the path/trail/route work.

Apply for real money. This means someone and/or organization needs to take the lead and needs to make the case to the regional committee that after five and half years of the Path through History project it’s time for New York to get serious and catch up to Alabama.

Funding Women: The Award Winners

New York State Museum Exhibit

The new cycle of REDC funding is beginning. I received an invitation to attend the Mid-Hudson session on April 25. New York is having a public session the same day so I imagine the regions throughout the state are gearing up to plan for the 2017 awards.

In my posts I have been reviewing the awards from 2016. So far I have presented those granted by NYS Canals
History Anniversary Funding and part of I Love NY in two separate posts: Show Me the Money and I LoveNY Funding.

In this post I am turning to those related to the centennial of women’s suffrage in New York. While the grants can be from multiple state agencies, the bulk of them are from the New York State Council on the Arts and relate to exhibits. The funding definition in the REDC awards guide is:

Funds are available for arts and culture initiatives to eligible non-profit and local units of government. This Local Assistance support is provided under Article 3 of NYS Arts and Cultural Affairs Law for the planning, presentation and staffing of the performing, literary and visual arts that encourage broader participation and public interest in the cultural heritage of NY State and promotes tourism and economic development. Funding Programs: Arts, Culture, Heritage New Initiatives – Planning (CHPG P); Arts, Culture, Heritage New Initiatives – Implementation (CHPG I); Workforce Investment (WIP): $5,000,000 [available in total].

The examples also are suggestive of what might be available for World War I exhibits for next year.

The major award winner as one might expect was the National Women’s Hall of Fame. It received four different awards from different state agencies in a total of $1,175 million. A significant chunk is for the rehabilitation of an abandoned mill across the street from the NPS site.

The awards listed below are copied directly from the REDC publication which is available as a PDF. I mention this because you will see various spellings throughout the examples including at times within a single award. These spellings are:

National Womens Hall of Fame
Womens Activism
Womens Rights
Womans Suffrage
Woman’s suffrage
Womens Suffrage
Women’s Suffrage.

I have no explanation for the use or non-use of apostrophes or the singular versus the plural form.


Leap Womens Suffrage Commemoration
LeAp will celebrate the NYS Women’s Suffrage Centennial by exploring woman’s suffrage through the lens of the “Struggle within the Struggle,” a dramatization of the historical experience of women of color having to break through systems of oppression to achieve basic human rights.
Arts CHPG I         $45,000


Shaker Museum
Exploring Shaker Ideas and Actions on Womens Rights: A Celebration of the Centennial of Womans Suffrage
The Shaker Museum at Mount Lebanon engages and inspires local, national, and global audiences by telling the story of the Shakers. In 2017 the museum’s programming will celebrate and explore the Shakers’ ideas and actions around women’s rights, and the lives of the women who lived at Mount Lebanon.
Arts CHPG I         $41,500

New York

Museum of the City of New York
Beyond Suffrage: 100 Years of Womens Activism in New York
In September 2017, the Museum of the City of New York will present Beyond Suffrage: 100 Years of Women’s Activism in New York. The exhibit will trace women’s activism in New York City from the suffrage movement through today and will include a focus on women activists who lived and worked in Harlem.
Arts CHPG I         $60,000

New York Historical Society
New York Womens Suffrage Exhibition
The New York Historical Society will celebrate the centennial of New York State signing women’s suffrage into law through a special satellite exhibition and audience engagement effort on Governors Island, curated by NYHS’s Teen Leaders in collaboration with the new Center for Women’s History.
Arts CHPG I         $75,000

New York City

Center for Traditional Music and Dance
NY Voices/NY Votes
NY Voices/NY Votes celebrates the legacy of the women’s suffrage movement through a series of pop-p festivals that bring the conversation about voting rights to diverse communities in Opportunity Zones by combining voter registration with arts/humanities programming, and employment/social services.
Arts CHPG I         $75,000


Everson Museum of Art
Seen and Heard
In “Seen and Heard,” New York’s central role in the fight for women’s suffrage serves as a catalyst for contemporary activism. The multi-media exhibition, educational programs, and artist residencies explore the language and tactics of protest through the arts in order to initiate civic engagement.
Arts CHPG I         $66,000


National Womens Hall of Fame
Center for Great Women
This project is phase three of a project that will transform the empty Seneca Knitting Mill into the Center for Great Women – the headquarters of the National Woman’s Hall of Fame. Work will include demolition, construction, interior build-out and site work of the first floor of the Mill, creating 4,200 square feet of habitable space for exhibits.

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.

This project is Phase III-A in the adaptive rehabilitation of the historic 1844 Seneca Knitting Mill. It will transform and re-use the first floor of the empty and dilapidated Mill into 4,200 square feet of habitable and occupiable space for exhibits and cultural activities showcasing the amazing stories of the National Women’s Hall of Fame’s Inductees.

Rehabilitation of the historic 1844 Seneca Knitting Mill, transformation of the dilapidated Mill into the Center for Great Women. This phase includes demolition, construction, interior build out and site work of the first floor.

Canals                   $125,000
MNY                      $250,000
OPRHP                  $300,000
ESD Grants          $500,000


Westchester Arts Council Inc
Suffrage Now, A Contemporary Art Exhibition
Suffrage Now is a contemporary art exhibition celebrating New York’s historic role in the path to the 19th Amendment while reinforcing the relevance of Women’s Suffrage today. Artworks consider contemporary events alongside historical to explore what the right to vote means to Americans.
Arts CHPG I         $75,000

The awards listed here are separate from any funding through the Women’s Suffrage Commission established by the State with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who spoke at the second suffrage meeting in Waterloo (next to Seneca Falls) last year, as the chair. The commission consists of:

Noemi Gazala, Superintendent of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park (NPS)
Rose Harvey, Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Kathy Hochul, Lieutenant Governor (appointed by Governor Cuomo)
Deborah Hughes, President of the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House
Dr. Jennifer LeMack, New York State Museum Chief Curator of History (appointed by commissioner of education)
Sen. Betty Little (appointed by the temporary president of the Senate)
Christina Lotz, Seneca County Clerk (appointed by minority leader of the Assembly)
Senator Velmanette Montgomery (appointed by minority leader of the Senate)
Kathleen Neville, Board Member of the New York Council for the Humanities
Dare Thompson, President of the League of Women Voters of New York State
Sally Roesch Wagner, Director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation
Eve Waltermaurer, Director of Research and Evaluation at The Benjamin Center, SUNY New Paltz (appointed by the speaker of the Assembly)
Howard Zemsky, President, CEO and Commissioner of Economic Development
Susan Zimet, President of 2020: Project Women, Inc.

According to the website dated August 22, 2016:  During its inaugural meeting, members of the Commission outlined plans for commemoration events to take place over the next three years that highlight historic achievements for women.

The Commission maintains a calendar of events. The big one upcoming appears to be with the NPS at Seneca Falls:

Join Women’s Rights National Historical Park for Convention Days 2017 July 14-16. This three day event will be filled with exciting speakers, historical actors (Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Frederick Douglass), theater performances, children’s activities, multiple art exhibits, vendors, and so much more.

Apparently there is still time to participate.

We are currently seeking people & organizations who would like to table at the event. We welcome groups with themes of equality, human rights, civil rights, and women’s rights. If you are interested at tabling, please contact Ashley Nottingham at:

Related to this event is VoteTilla Week, scheduled for July 16-22, 2017. Participants will travel in canal boats from Seneca Falls to Rochester, concluding with a final celebration at the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House. Along the way, boats will dock at towns and villages for historic re-enactments, speeches and music, co-hosted by local groups and partner organizations including the Canal Society of New York State, Seward House and the University of Rochester’s Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership. This partnership explains why some of the awards by the New York Canal Corporation, which is beginning its bicentennial, are connected to the centennial of women’s suffrage.

My impression is that the funding for the Commission totals in the hundreds of thousands dollars and it serves more as a promoter/coordinator than as an initiator/developer.

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my position on history anniversary celebrations. In my opinion, the appropriate state office for the funding and leadership for anniversary events is the Office of the New York State Historian. We are, after all, talking about history anniversaries. Funding for events related to a state anniversary should be through the office directly involved with New York state history. At present in the REDC funding cycle the state historian receives nothing. This omission is due to REDC reporting to the Governor while the cultural organizations, NYS Museum, Archives, and Library, report to the Regents. State history pays the price for these turf wars. Another possibility is for the Regents to create their own counterpart to the REDC process so organizations can apply to the Archives, Library, and Museum for funding. The Regents could even use the same form ESD does.