NYSCA History | NYSCA (2023)

  • 1960
  • 1970
  • 1980
  • 1990
  • 2000
  • 2010

NYSCA History | NYSCA (1)


Governor Rockefeller and New York State Senate and Assembly establish the New York State Council on the Arts

Governor Nelson Rockefeller and New York State Senate and Assembly establish the New York State Council on the Arts as a temporary body with a study grant of $50,000. NYSCA becomes the first modern-day state arts agency in the country.

NYSCA History | NYSCA (2)

Presentation by GovernorRockefeller to the Metropolitan Museum of Art of the exhibition “Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas”, 05/09/1968


New York State Legislature appropriates $450,000 for the Council and programs

NYSCA launches Touring Program

  • NYSCA initiates its Touring Program – the precursor to today’s performing arts programs – to ensure that venues all over the state have access to high quality culture.
  • Traveling exhibitions program begins with seven American Federation of the Arts exhibitions touring the state

NYSCA History | NYSCA (3)

Through NYSCA's Touring Program, Leonard Bernstein conducts the New York Philharmonic for 7,000 schoolchildren in Troy.


NYSCA is established as a permanent agency

  • National Endowment for the Arts and National Council on the Arts established by U.S. Congress, making federal funds available to state arts councils
  • More than 225,000 visitors to the New York World’s Fair visit the Council’s exhibition “The City – Places and People” – in the New York State Pavilion including artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Willem de Kooning and Edward Hopper
  • The Council begins a program supporting educational presentations in schools around the state by companies such as the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and New York City Ballet

NYSCA History | NYSCA (4)

NYSCA World’s Fair exhibit & opening reception, “The City, The Places, The people” (1965)


NYSCA honors local culture with New York State Awards

  • NYSCA presents the first New York State Awards to the Buffalo Festival of the Arts Today, Judson Memorial Church, New York Shakespeare Festival and others.
  • NYSCA creates the Film Project, under the guidance of Peter Bradley, setting national precedence for the recognition of Television and Film as an art form, later the Film Program, now the Electronic Media & Film Program

NYSCA History | NYSCA (5)

A young pianist performs at the 1966 New York State Awards.


NYSCA introduces dedicated support for underserved populations

  • NYSCA launches theprecursor towhat is now known as the Special Arts Services Program

NYSCA commemmorates 150th anniversary of Erie Canal

NYSCA tours The Erie Maid -- a two-deck Canal-workers’ boat converted into a movable art exhibition hall featuring a calliope --to 30 canal communities with exhibition entitled “The Erie Canal: 1817-1967” to commemorate the 150th anniversary of beginning of Canal construction. The exhibition is viewed by 138,250 people

(Video) 2022 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Info Session: General Overview and Last Minute Questions

NYSCA History | NYSCA (6)

NYSCA tours The Erie Maid to 30 canal communitiesto commemorate the 150th anniversary of beginning of Canal construction.

NYSCA History | NYSCA (7)


The New York State Legislature appropriates $20.2 M for NYSCA, the largest governmental aid to the arts in U.S. history

  • NYSCA begins a new program, now known as State & Local Partnerships, to support community and regional arts councils, multi-arts centers and interdisciplinary service organizations
  • Literature Program established to support the creation, publication and dissemination of fiction, poetry, non-fiction and drama

NYSCA History | NYSCA (8)

NYSCA launches Literature program, supporting publications and readings such as one by Gregory Orr and Erica Jong at City Hall Park in New York City


Architecture and Environmental Arts (Now Architecture + Design) program created

NYSCA History | NYSCA (9)

NYSCA's Architecture + Design Programsupports organizations and individuals working to further innovation and excellence in the design arts, to promote the preservation and interpretation of New York State’s architectural + design heritage and to encourage the development of design literacy for all New Yorkers. Pictured is Frank Lloyd Wright'sGraycliff, a Western New York landmark and NYSCA Architecture + Design grantee. Photo Courtesy of Graycliff.


The arts account for nearly half of the state’s tourism, about $7 billion a year

  • A study by Louis Harris polling organization concludes that the arts account for nearly half of the state’s tourism
  • A study by Yankelovich, Skelly and White of the Metropolitan Museum’s “Treasures of Tutankhamun” shows that the exhibition generated more than $1 million a day into the city’s economy spent by out-of-town visitors

NYSCA History | NYSCA (10)

The arts account for nearly half of New York State tourism, with cultural attractions of all disciplines and styles throughout the state, including 1972 NYSCA Award winnersGeorge Balanchine & the New York City Ballet dancers.


NYSCA launches Decentralization Program pilot

  • Decentralization (DEC) pilot programexpands the Council’s capacity to respond to cultural needs at the grassroots level, reaching into small or insulated communities to increase cultural opportunities
  • Presenting Program established to help bring high-quality performing arts companies and artists to large and small cities across the state

NYSCA History | NYSCA (11)

Members of the Empire State Youth Orchestra, founded by the Decentralization Plan for the Capital District

NYSCA History | NYSCA (12)


NYSCA sponsors art for Winter Olympics in Lake Placid

NYSCA supports Olympic Games arts in and around the Lake Placid area, including an outdoor sculpture exhibit, performing arts events and presentation of video works

NYSCA History | NYSCA (13)

Filmmakers Kit Fitzgerald and John Sanborn were commissionedto create a series of videotapes for the 1980 Winter Olympics.


NYSCA establishes a Task Force on Individual Artists

NYSCA establishes a Task Force on Individual Artists to find ways artists can best be served by public funds, the precursor to the Individual Artists Program

(Video) FY2022 Webinar: NYSCA Support for Artists


NYSCA creates Musical Instrument Revolving Loan Fund

MIRLF offerslow-interest loans to musicians to purchase instruments


NYSCA launches Arts In Education and Folk Arts Programs

  • Arts In Education Program created to develop sustained partnerships between the educational and cultural community for students pre-K through grade 12
  • Folk Arts Program created, devoted to sustaining New York State’s living cultural heritage of folk arts
  • NYSCA awards first multi-year grants, providing funding stability for grantees in good standing

NYSCA History | NYSCA (14)

Mehendi, the art of Indian henna painting, a project at the Queens Council on the Arts supported by NYSCA'sFolk Arts Program. Photo by Martha Cooper.

NYSCA receives special Tony Award to honor 25 years of contributions to the theater

NYSCA receives special Tony Award to honor 25 years of contributions to the theater


NYSCA Creates Capital Funding Initiative

  • Capital Funding Initiative Created, the precursor to today’s Facilities Program
  • Grand Central Dances celebrates 75 year anniversary of Grand Central Terminal with multimedia dance performances featuring performers such as Merce Cunningham and Philippe Petit

NYSCA History | NYSCA (15)

NYSCA's Facilities Program continues to support cultural destinationssuch as the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center Performing Arts Center at Bard College. NYSCA awarded the Fisher Center FY2017 Facilities Program fundingto upgrade elements of its lighting and sound systems, saving costs, reducing negative environmental effects, enhancing patron experience, and improving accessibility.


NYSCA's budget exceeds $50M

  • Initial investment of $50,000 has grown to a budget of over $50 M
  • Film Program hosts “Show The Right Thing: A National Conference on Multicultural Film and Video Exhibition” for 300 participants
  • Special Arts Services Program supports Western New York Migrant Multicultural Arts Festival, serving 650 migrant farm workers from 12 counties

NYSCA History | NYSCA (16)


NYSCA produces Set in Motion festival

NYSCA produces Set in Motion,a week-long festival of 59 films and tapes at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater, representative of the 1500+ films and videotapes supported by NYSCA since the 60s

NYSCA History | NYSCA (17)

Members of Image Union on the set of The Five-Day Bicycle Race, 1976, A NYSCA-supported film featured at the Set in Motion festival.


NYSCA co-founds New York State Task Force on Partnerships in Dance

New York State Task Force on “Partnerships in Dance” is founded, dedicated to increasing the level of dance activity around the state and remaining active today as the NYS DanceForce

NYSCA History | NYSCA (18)

NYSCA's commitment to dance statewide continues today through the New York State DanceForce, which brings teaching and performanceresidencies by a diverse range of the state's finest companies to upstate communities. Pictured is Tango Fire, a 2017-18 resident company that will perform in the Capital Region.


NYSCA partners with the State Education Department to launch education plan

(Video) NYSCA FY2023 Funding Opportunities Kick-Off Webinar

NYSCA collaborates with the State Education Department to create Empire State Partnership Project, a strategic plan for raising standards for all students, integrating the arts

NYSCA History | NYSCA (19)

Multigravitational Aerodance Group conducts movement workshops with 3rd graders from P.S. 19 in Manhattan. Photo by Joel Gordon


NYSCA co-creates LitTree, showcasing New York's literary heritage

  • NYS Littree.org is created in collaboration with Bright Hill Press in Treadwell, showcasing New York State’s literary heritage
  • NYSCA Museum Program hosts “[emailprotected]: The Arts in a Digital Age," in collaboration with the New York Foundation for the Arts, a conference exploring applications of technology for art-making, communication, networking and marketing

NYSCA History | NYSCA (20)

National Book Award winner Mary Ann Hoberman spent four days with third graders and their parents at P.S. 115 in Washington Heights. Photo by Meg Kearney.

NYSCA History | NYSCA (21)


NYSCA publishes Changing Places: 25 Years of Architecture, Planning and Design at the New York State Council on the Arts

  • The publication Changing Places: 25 Years of Architecture, Planning and Design at the New York State Council on the Arts was produced and a celebratory event was held at the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum to honor 25 years of NYSCA’s architecture and design support
  • NYSCA Electronic Media & Film Program establishes the NYSCA Memory Archive, preserving thirty-three years (1967-2000) of seminal NYSCA grantee media and film materials, in collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum and the New York Public Library

NYSCA History | NYSCA (22)

Platt Byard Dovell Architects designed the Selwyn Studio Buildding in collaboration with lighting designer Anne Militello, funded in part by a large Architecture + Design grant. Converted from an office building, the 84,000-square-foot space was designed to include 14 studios, a 199-seat theatre and nonprofit offices in the heart of Times Square. Renderings by Sean Daly featured in Changing Places.


NYSCA leads the Black Theatre Initiative

NYSCA leads the Black Theatre Initiative, a Convening Regarding the Current State of Black Theatres, in NYC with guest panelists from major Black theatres from five other states


NYSCA spearheads creation of the New York State Artist Workspace Consortium

NYSCA’s Visual Arts Program spearheads the creation of the New York State Artist Workspace Consortium, a networked peer group of 10 organizations that share and promote the purpose of providing workspaces to create new work and dialogue.

NYSCA History | NYSCA (23)

Artist Megan Michalak in her Smack Mellon studio, a participating organization in the New York State Artist Workspace Consortium.


NYSCA implements the Stabilization Program

  • Through special legislation, NYSCA implements the Stabilization Program initiative which offers critical grants for creating cash reserve funds for nonprofit arts and cultural institutions to be used as working capital
  • The Museum Program convenes children’s museums in the State to discuss strategies for stability, collaboration, and growth.

NYSCA History | NYSCA (24)

Luzerne Music Center Senior Session Brass Quintet and their coach Beth Graham in Lake Luzerne. Photo by Inner Mountain Photography. LMC, a NYSCA Stabilization Grantee in FY2008, receives support through NYSCA's Music Program 10 years later.


NYSCA initiates Cultural Blueprints sessions across the state

NYSCA initiates Cultural Blueprints sessions across the state. These sessions built upon the Empire State Development Corporation’s Regional Blueprints to identify regional and statewide arts-based growth strategies, still active today through the REDC initiative.


NYSCA provides stimulus funding to save jobs

(Video) NYSCA Online Coaches Training

NYSCA distributes $399,900 of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) economic stimulus funds through the National Endowment for the Arts to save jobs of employees with significant impact to the surrounding arts and cultural community threatened due to the economic downturn

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Battery Dance Festival, a NYSCA Stimulus grantee in FY2010, continues to receive funding in 2018. Photo by Darial Sneed.

NYSCA History | NYSCA (26)


NYSCA Celebrates 50th anniversary

NYSCA Celebrates its 50th anniversary; NY Arts Coalition creates “50 Years, 50 Stories” Video Collection


NYSCA invited to participate in REDC Awards

NYSCA begins participation in the Regional Economic Development Council Program along with other New York State agencies to support projects placing arts at the center of growth

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NYSCA awarded theBardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie REDC fundingto create the 4 Seasons of the Hudson Valley Festival featuring music, theater, comedy, visual arts, food, fireworks, and a parade in collaboration with local governments, hotels, restaurants, historic sites and parks, libraries, artistsand cultural organizations.


NYSCA establishes REDC Digital Film Projector Conversion Program

NYSCA establishes the REDC Digital Film Projector Conversion Program as Hollywood announces it will no longer distribute celluloid formats

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NYSCA awarded the Little Theatre in RochesterREDC funding toupgrade its historic cinema with a digital film projector, acoustic upgrades, and a new digital sound system and screen. These improvements were made to createuniversal accessibility, improved layouts, reduced maintenance costs and the highest quality film experience. The presence of the theater in the east end of downtown Rochester has helped focus and nurture the redevelopment of the neighborhood.


NYSCA launches Diversifying Orchestral Music convening series

NYSCA’s Music and Arts Education Programs host the first of three Diversifying Orchestral Music convenings, leading to the creation of REDC workforce investment opportunities for members of communities underrepresented in the arts

As one of the first recipients of a REDC Fellowship for Members of Underrepresented Communities, the Orchestra of St. Luke's hiredCommunity Liaison Fellow Kristina Teuschler to support the organization’s diversity and community engagement initiatives.

NYSCA celebrates 30 years and more than $30 million of support for the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship

Since 1985, more than 4,000 artists have received unrestricted support through the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship, funded by NYSCA and administered by the New York Foundation for the Arts. Alumni include Spike Lee, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, Lynn Nottage, Julie Taymor and Billy Collins.


NYSCA partners with Empire State Development on $20M funding opportunity

  • NYSCA partners with Empire State Development on an unprecedented $20M capital funding opportunity available through REDC funding

NYSCA partners with the NYS Canals Commission to celebrate the Erie Canal Bicentennial

  • NYSCA partners with the NYS Canals Commission to celebrate the Erie Canal Bicentennial. Through NYSCA’s REDC Program, NYSCA helps to fund projects that commemorate the canals, such as the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s WaterMusic and the Corning Museum of Glass’ GlassBarge
  • The National Endowment for the Arts in collaboration with the Bureau of Economic Analysis releases the first report of state-by-state data relating to the economic impact of the arts, showing that New York State’s cultural industries provide 459,942 jobs and $45.5 billion in compensation

NYSCA History | NYSCA (29)

NYSCA awarded the Albany Symphony Orchestra REDC funding to support Water Music NY, in partnership with fellow state agencies Empire State Development, I Love NY and the NYS Canals Commission. A 7-city tour of canalside concerts presented in partnership with local artists and food and drink vendors, Water Music New York attracted 23,000 audience members and will be expanded in 2018.


1. NYSCA FY2023 Special Opportunities Webinar
(NYSCA Public Affairs)
2. NYSCA FY2017 Grant Application Walkthrough
(NYS Grants Reform)
3. 2022 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship: General Overview
(New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA))
4. 2022 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Info Session: Crafting Your Written Statements
(New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA))
5. NYSCA/NYFA Artists with Disabilities Grant Info Session
(New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA))
6. NYSCA BHFF 2022
(Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival)
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