Although delayed, the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council reportedly will be receiving the full amount of its state funding that has been on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, giving Executive Director Gregory Hallock reason to believe the agency will be able to provide all of its services and programs in 2021.
“We just received word that we will be getting the full $127,000 (mostly from the New York State Council on the Arts), we just don’t know when the money is coming in,” said Hallock during an agency review Monday for the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee.
Hallock said that GO ART! had to “shut everything down” last March at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak, resulting in cancelled events, such as the July 4th Picnic in the Park (it was held virtually) and the halting of renovations at the 201 E. Main St. facility.
“It was a scary situation, but we are seeing the light,” he said, adding that the agency currently has about $70,000 on hand, twice as much as he expected.
With the assurances of its usual monetary support – and through the utilization of Payroll Protection Program grants, GO ART! is ready to transition its two employees back to full time later this month and is “planning to be fully open on September 1st,” Hallock said.
He said he is excited about the new features at the building, including a dance studio – “we even have a disco light,” he said – as well as a film studio, podcast studio with soundproofing windows, a hair studio, remodeled kitchen, and library with a grand piano.
GO ART! is looking to open Tavern 2.0.1 in September, Hallock said, disappointed that it was in operation for just two and a half months in 2020.
“We’re ready to make a ‘big bang’ when we get the go-ahead to start that back up,” he said.
The executive director’s report pointed out the value of a cultural component, noting there is a 7:1 return on dollars spent both directly and indirectly.
“Indications show that in our very region, arts/cultural tourists spend an average of 50 percent more than residents do per event, with an emphasis on indirect spending in the restaurant and hospitality sectors,” he stated.
He said GO ART! is able to support local organizations and individuals through the NYSCA Decentralized Re-Grant Program.
More than $43,000 in grants funded by the NYSCA, namely “Reach,” “Ripple” and “Spark” grants, were awarded in Genesee County in 2020, he said.
“Reach” grant award recipients included the Genesee Valley Wind Ensemble’s concert season, Genesee Symphony Orchestra, Arc of Genesee/Orleans, Holland Purchase Historical Society, Elba Betterment Committee, Woodward Memorial Library, Genesee Chorale, ACORNS music in the park, Gillam Grant Community Center and the Batavia Concert Band.
Individual artists receiving “Ripple” grants were David Burke, Bart Dentino, Mandy Humphrey and Eric Zwieg.
Hallock said GO ART! spent $20,000 toward facility construction prior to the shutdown, and is set to resume the exterior and interior renovations, which are estimated to cost $218,000. Work will be done on the main entrance awning, kitchen roof, gutter system, storm windows and chimney.
GO ART! has received six grants for this project, totaling $199,500, he said, and is seeking grants to install an elevator, update the central air system and create a cultural garden.
The agency also is working on a partnering grant with the arts councils in Wyoming, Livingston and Monroe counties to share a full-time marketing director, Hallock said. Currently, GO ART! shares a full-time folklorist with Wyoming and Livingston counties.
Hallock said plans including offering the building for long-term room rentals, artist nights and other programs. Despite the pandemic, he said the agency assisted other organizations by using the building as a distribution site for food and clothing, and distributed 16,000 art kits to youth in Genesee and Orleans counties.
In legislative action, the Human Services Committee recommended approval of a resolution to allocate $6,500 to GO ART! for 2021. This is the same amount of funding that was appropriated in 2018, 2019 and 2020.