CREATE is 50, but the artists it helped are countless

“The organization is 47 years old, which is notable in itself,” said Nathan McLaughlin, CREATE interim executive director. “It has its roots in being a community service organization that’s committed to growing an arts community by providing arts Grants to any artist that strives to produce and show their work across multiple mediums.”

Since 1975, CREATE has provided programming, information and services to artists, arts organizations, cultural and educational institutions, civic groups, community agencies, non-profits and the general public.

With an original mission to broaden and enrich the quality of life in Greene County, its programs and activities have evolved and expanded over the years to better meet the needs of the artistic community in the three counties it serves.

CREATE Council on the Arts

Based in Catskill, CREATE today provides these services through its Community Arts Grants Program, which funds artists and organizations seeking to creatively engage their communities through projects in the arts. Grants of up to $5,000 are awarded annually in three project areas: community projects, artist commissions, and arts education.

In 2022, 54 Grants totaling $158,840 were awarded. Grant winners used funds to develop music concerts, theater and dance performances, community art classes, poetry readings, exhibits and film screenings, to name a few.

Examples include the Hudson Festival Orchestra’s “Hudson in Concert: A Community Celebration,” the Hunter Stone Carving Seminar in Tannersville and cultural programming at public libraries.

“We started out with visual arts, and today support a broad middle ground of artists,” said McLaughlin, who came on board in August and specializes in scaling and building nonprofits. “The mission has really evolved over the years to a much more multidisciplinary approach.”

McLaughlin said that for many non-profits, the Grants they receive from CREATE are the sole source of funding for some programming.

One such organization is the Schoharie Free Library, located at 103 Knower Ave. in the Village of Schoharie, which recently celebrated being one of CREATE’s 2022 arts grant winners in Schoharie County.

Yvonne Keller-Baker recently took over as librarian and director, allowing program director Jennie Mosher to concentrate on procuring grant funding for the nonprofit library and the many programs, classes, clubs, teen outreach, guest speakers and art/craft events she coordinates. This year’s summer programming alone saw attendance at individual events close to 200.

Both Keller-Baker and Mosher celebrated with fellow winners in September during a ceremony at Landis Arboretum’s Full Moon Concert Series in Esperance. McLaughlin and other CREATE members were also in attendance.

“Funding for the arts is not easy to come by,” McLaughlin said, “and I think that Ours is unique because of the community engagement part, which we witnessed firsthand at Landis.”

The Schoharie Library allocated its grant by teaming up with fellow libraries in Middleburgh, Sharon Springs and Cobleskill to present Crafts Around the World, featuring five monthly programs focused on a traditional craft and providing historical context from different countries.

“This grant was used to coordinate with other libraries in the area, which made it more exciting,” said Mosher. “We will be applying for next year’s CREATE Community Arts Grants with new ideas that I’m excited about.”

“It’s amazing what this library can do with grant funding to promote the arts,” Keller-Baker added.

Applications for CREATE’s 2023 Community Arts Grants program will be accepted through Dec. 15. Winners will receive notification by February 2023. For information, call 518-943-3400 or email [email protected]

Funding is made possible through the Statewide Community Regrants Program (formerly known as Decentralization), a program of the New York State Council on the Arts, with support from the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

In addition to administering the grant program, CREATE fosters awareness about the vast cultural resources within Columbia, Greene and Schoharie counties, while also developing and presenting arts-related activities.

The organization works with the Greene County Legislature to administer the Greene County Cultural Fund, and is launching a similar program in Columbia County with support from its legislature, to allocate money for regranting to major arts and cultural organizations.

CREATE is also in the process of developing the Garcia Fund for Emerging Artists, named after one of its Founders – Ruben Garcia, which will support Younger artists in high school and college.

“As an artist myself, I’m a serial collaborator, and it wouldn’t be nearly as fun without that aspect,” McLaughlin said. “Our grant program is much like that, encouraging artists to share their talents while working to bring people into the arts community.”

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