Providing grants, programs, and services to the artists and audiences of Tompkins County for over 25 years

Our News & Features!

The staff of the Community Arts Partnership (all two of us!) have considered what it means to strengthen communities this past year. For us, it means that we continue on with our work of amplifying the voices of our local artists, and providing grants and resources so that we all stay safe and stay connected! - Megan Barber (Executive Director) & Robin Schwartz (Program & Grant Director)


May/June Artsletter's "Read More" Articles!

Click the title below to go to corresponding section

* Grantee Focus - Story House Ithaca


* Art and Science Meet CAP Donor - Werner Sun




Messages From CAP Staff

Click to go to Corresponding Section

* Dear CAP Family  from Megan Barber, Executive Director
* Succeeding Together from Robin Schwartz, Program/Grant Director
* In Solidarity - To End Racism

Features Below

Click to go to corresponding section

* April Donor Feature - Now More than Ever... Pamela Tan
* February Celebration of the Arts - watch the video
* CAP is Chamber Member of the Week - watch the video
* Dr. Christine Kitano is the latest Poet Laureate
* Latest NYSCA Grant Recipients Announced
* Ithaca named 4th most arts-vibrant medium sized community


Dear CAP Family
Executive Director, Megan Barber

We are so excited to announce the launch of our Creative Recovery Fund grant program. 

Right now we need to raise just $8,000 more to meet our goal of $20,000 to help artists and arts groups to make a difference in our community’s recovery from the quadruple pandemics of COVID-19, economic recession, racism, and climate disaster.

Starting in June, the Creative Recovery Fund will make grants to help Tompkins County artists and arts groups leverage their creative power, putting artists and arts groups to work rebuilding, reimagining, unifying, and healing our many communities.

Thanks to a generous contribution by the Community Foundation of Tompkins County’s Tompkins Today and Tomorrow Fund and gifts already coming in from our family of donors, we’re well on our way to meeting our goal. With just a little over $8,000 left to raise, we invite you to make a contribution now. 100% of contributions will go directly to artists and arts groups.

You know the power of the arts to touch hearts, expand minds, set visions, and heal wounds.

Make a contribution to the Creative Recovery Fund today at the Donate Button below, or visit

Thank you for your commitment and support!



Succeeding Together
Robin Schwartz, Program/Grant Director

One of my favorite parts of my job is administering our grant programs to local artists and organizations for artistic events, significant opportunities, and community impact. CAP has distributed of over $4.7 million since 1993!

I recently collected quotes from artists who have received our latest Specific Opportunity Stipend (SOS) for a "Thank You" to the SOS funders. I've love to share some of these wonderful quotes with you, which apply to all of our CAP supporters!

  • I am writing to thank you for your tremendous support of Tompkins County artists, and to let you know how much your influence creates practical and inspirational effects that travel far into the future and into the rest of our communities.

  • I cannot thank you enough for providing the seeds that blossom into such abundance! Not just for myself, but the many artists I meet and work with in Tompkins County who have also been supported, uplifted, and pushed forward in their work by CAP and CAP's supporters.

  • Art is made better in a community of flourishing art, and flourishing art makes a better community. I’m grateful for your commitment to make that so.

  • Art is what keeps me going in these times. I am proud of living in a community where generous supporters for the arts exist.

  • Good philanthropy is crucial in building a community of people whose collective work has an impact on our culture, our lives, our creativity, and our happiness. CAP is fortunate to have the support of forward thinking benefactors who enable them to make their amazing programs available.

Great, right?! We do good work, thanks to you! If you haven't already (or lately) donated to CAP, please join us as a Partner in the Arts HERE.

Program and Grant Director, Robin Schwartz



Grantee Feature
SOS Grant and Story House Ithaca

Story House Ithaca is a new organization dedicated to fostering community in Ithaca and making a space for people to come together to make and share stories. The organization hosts and organizes events of all sorts surrounding mediums of storytelling as varied as poetry, photography, and puppetry. Story House aims to bring together Ithacans of all interests and backgrounds and make a space for them to explore and celebrate the wonderful world of storytelling that this city offers.

Story House Ithaca received a Community Arts Partnerhship “Specific Opportunity Stipend” (SOS) for its inaugural project, Pandemic Dreams: A Post-Covid Fantasy. Pandemic Dreams was a community-sourced video project and event with the theme of life after the pandemic. Organizers encouraged participants to “unquarantine their imaginations” and send in short videos for this event.

The event showing off the videos submitted for Pandemic Dreams took place on April 21, 2021, on Zoom, in true pandemic fashion. A few of the contributors were Story House Ithaca’s very own organizer, Lesley Greene; professional puppeteer, Scott Hitz; the world’s coolest ten-year-old, Ian F.; and many other local and not-so-local people seeking to showcase their creativity.

Though varied in their styles, each video sought to express the hopes and fears for what life will hold after the pandemic. Story House Ithaca hoped for contributors to take what can sometimes seem like an all-consuming present and set it aside to look towards the future. This event sought to make a space for people to explore their feelings as the light at the end of the tunnel of this pandemic comes into view, whether those feelings are good, bad, or funny.

The SOS Grant allowed Story House Ithaca to establish a Zoom Pro account that was necessary to host Pandemic Dreams. The account will continue to be used to host future events for the organization. They also used the grant for video editing on the project itself and to help get their website up and running.

Story House Ithaca is grateful to CAP for making their first official event one to remember and opening the door for them to continue to put on great events for the community. All the videos submitted for the Pandemic Dreams project can be found on Story House Ithaca’s YouTube. Story House Ithaca’s next event will be at Stewart Park on July 4, 2021, for the park’s 100th anniversary. They will have a booth open for people to document their memories in video, telling their own stories on this special day.

Story House has other events in the works to be announced soon but would like to hear from anyone who has an idea for an event. There’s a form on their website to contact them about collaborations, help in hosting an event, or even ideas for the kinds of events you want to see more of in Ithaca. For more information about Story House Ithaca, check out their website and Facebook page: and

Art and Science Meet
CAP Donor Feature - Werner Sun

Werner Sun is the IT Director at the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based Sciences and Education. He is also a well-known visual artist, and a wonderful CAP supporter!

Dr. Sun has a PhD from the California Institute of Technology. When talking about his art, however, he’s called just Werner. His work has been exhibited in Ithaca, Rochester, Brooklyn, and Cambridge MA, among other places, and most recently Aon’s offices at One Liberty Plaza in New York City.

He’s often asked what science and art have in common. To begin answering that difficult question, he quoted American conceptual artist Sol Lewitt: “Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically.”

In an interview with Carol White Llewellyn of Rochester CTV Media Center, Werner debunked the notion that scientists are only logical and artists are only intuitive. “Where does the idea for a scientific experiment come from in the first place? If you have a problem with the experiment, where does the solution come from? Also, artists’ ideas may come out of nowhere, but then they have to know their materials and how they behave.” Just like scientists.
For more on this interesting notion, read “Strange Attractors: Art, Science, and the Question of Convergence,” an online symposium held by the CUE Art Foundation in 2017, which has more of Werner Sun’s thoughts about this.

Werner has always had a passion for the arts, playing piano when growing up in Connecticut, and working as a visual artist for the past fifteen years. He began by making mobiles, then became interested in folding paper, taking photographs of those objects and, finally, manipulating the photographs.

 “One piece is the seed for the next piece,” he says. “A single image transforms into something unrecognizable from the thing you started out with. To me, the importance of a piece of art is when I’m making it. Once I’m done, I’m impatient to go on to the next one. I think of each piece as a record of my own curiosity.
A recent piece is called The Marks we Leave Behind, because, Werner says, “As humans, we’ve always had the compulsion to make marks, from plowing a field to making computer chip.” Art, science, and many
other human activities come from the need to make things.

Werner gives to CAP because “It is a hub of arts information and programming, serving as an anchor of the local arts scene. CAP brings artists together, and it gives them new ways to connect with the public. This past year in particular, artists and arts organizations have been devastated by the pandemic, and I want to do everything I can to help.

After all, Dr. Sun concludes, “The arts enrich our community (and our sense of community) by giving them collective meaningful experiences that transcend the everyday.”

Now More Than Ever, Art is Crucial
CAP Donor Feature - Pamela Tan

By Judith Pratt

Pamela Tan didn’t think she was an artist. She’s Deputy Director of Admissions at Cornell and has a degree in conservation biology.

Then, a few years ago, Tan received a Specific Opportunity Stipend (SOS) grant from CAP, to produce a film about local artist Alice Muhlback. She co-created it with Muhlback, by animating her drawings and collaborating on the story.
(It's on Vimeo here:
  She produced it with her husband, filmmaker/writer Chris Holmes. Together, they are Little Whale Productions.

“I never would have considered myself an artist at all before that,” Tan said. “The grant gave me the confidence to try things I never would have attempted before, like creating radio features and acting in the One Minute Play Festival at the Kitchen Theatre.”

She also gives back to CAP in many ways.

“My family and I give primarily to local organizations to support our neighbors and community,” Tan explains. “My mother set that example, quietly, when I was growing up. No matter how tight things were at home, she always found a way to help when she could.”

Ms. Tan was born in New York City, lived with her grandparents in the Philippines for a while, then spent most of her childhood in Florida before returning to New York for high school and college. “My parents speak Tagalog,” Tan said. “It’s one of over 100 languages spoken in the Philippines. Alas, I can understand it and translate it when I hear it, but I can’t speak it!”

Tan studied conservation biology at Cornell. While working for the College Board part time to pay for graduate school, she ended up doing research on the Mongolian Wild Horse at a national park near Ulaanbaatar. “Let’s just say it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I was not cut out for field research,” she said. “It was tough to confront that what I thought I wanted was not a great fit. But my work at the College Board opened the door to a new pathway, especially issues related to access to higher education for under-served and under-represented students.”

After a stint in admissions at Vassar College, Tan came to Cornell Admissions in 2011. “I am absolutely passionate about what I do,” she said. In fact, her bio on Little Whale Productions, reads, “Pamela Tan produces films when she isn't growing kale and fighting the good fight to increase access to college.”

CAP also has a special place in her heart. “Part of the reason I love living in this area is that it’s truly a great place for all artists. My friends who are painters, writers, comedians, poets, filmmakers, puppeteers, songwriters, actors, dancers, and cartoonists have all be supported by CAP in some way, shape, or form. Ithaca and Tompkins County would not be the same without CAP.”

When not working, or producing films, Tan volunteers for WRFI Community Radio on the news team, the Board, and as the host of “8 Song Memoir”, where people share their lives through eight songs and stories. Somehow, she also finds time to manage her son’s team at Ithaca Youth Hockey.

“Now maybe more than ever,” she concludes, “empathy, connection, and the openness to the lived experiences of others is crucial. Art plays a significant role in that."

Grantee Feature
Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County, and ¡CULTURA Ithaca!

The Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County (LCA) is a volunteer organization that unites the Latinx community of Tompkins County and provides a platform for cultural, social, educational, and civic expression. Members strive to strengthen Latinx identity and promote solidarity, cultural pride, and civic engagement.

The LCA has been receiving the “Grants for Art Programs” (GAP) grants for several years now in order to fund their annual ¡CULTURA Ithaca! events.

These events help to share Latinx culture with the Ithaca community through easily accessible arts-based educational events. The project was founded in 2010 by Carolina Osorio Gil and Debra A. Castillo, who wanted to address the lack of Latinx art, culture, and educational activities in Tompkins County.

 ¡CULTURA Ithaca! is led by three co-directors: Azucena Campos López who is a clinical psychologist and dancer, Enrique González-Conty who is an Assistant Professor of Spanish at Ithaca College, and Paulina Velázquez who is a Lecturer in the Department of Art at Ithaca College and a multimedia artist. The co-directors and a number of volunteers will present arts programs during Latinx Heritage Month.

The Cine con CULTURA Latinx American Film Festival is a program that started five years ago and has grown very popular. The event is programed by festival director Enrique González-Conty in collaboration with Cinemapolis, Cornell Cinema, the Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition, No más lágrimas/No more tears, the Multicultural Resource Center, FLEFF, Ithaca College, Cornell University, among other organizations, to share and celebrate Latinx filmmaking. The film festival is sponsored by several programs and departments at Ithaca College and Cornell University as well.

The Latinx Art Exhibition is currently curated by Paulina Velázquez. This is one of the latest major events at ¡CULTURA! Where several Latinx artists from Tompkins County have shown their work. The public has had overwhelmingly positive responses to the event, that the last two exhibits where asked that they extend the show for another month. Just as last year, the exhibition will take place both in person and online in order for people to enjoy the show from the comfort of their own homes, and different parts of the globe

The latest major event at ¡CULTURA Ithaca! is a Dance Performance. Choreographed by Azucena Campos López, several dance pieces are celebrated as “a central element in the everyday life of Latin American countries. It is a reflection of the history and traditions of every country, one of the strongest key elements of their identity.” The event will feature traditional dance numbers from different regions in Latin America as community members share their heritage through dance during Latinx Heritage month.

Through ¡CULTURA! Ithaca, the LCA hopes to share and represent Latinx and Latin American stories, enriching the cultural landscape not only for the Latinx community in Tompkins County, but for anyone who wishes to learn about Latinx and Latin American cultures. For more information visit: and

February 2021 Celebration of the Arts
Watch the Video

If you missed our February Celebration of the Arts Event, you can watch it here.





Sixteen Arts and Culture Organizations Awarded County Grants

 Ithaca, NY, March 11, 2021 – At its March 3 meeting, the Tompkins County Legislature voted to approve more than $185,000 in Arts and Culture Organizational Development grant funding for 16 local arts and cultural organizations: Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Cinemapolis, Community School of Music and Arts, Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers, Hangar Theatre, Ithaca Children's Garden, Ithaca Shakespeare Company, Kitchen Theatre Company, Opera Ithaca, Paleontological Research Institution, Running to Places Theatre Company, Sciencenter, State Theatre of Ithaca, The Cherry Arts, The History Center in Tompkins County, and the Trumansburg Conservatory of Fine Arts.

This year's applicants were unified in their commitment to community health and safety through COVID- smart practices and to expanding diversity and inclusiveness in their target audience, staff, performers, and programming.

Remarks Megan Barber, Executive Director of the Community Arts Partnership, which administers the County’s Arts and Culture Organizational Development grant program, “We are so grateful that the County is able to provide this critical funding, even during this pandemic year. It truly is a testament to the centrality of the arts to our flourishing community. We are all so fortunate to have so many innovative and inspiring arts and culture organizations right here in our area.”

"It's encouraging to see that while our budget has contracted, the Tompkins County Legislature and Strategic Tourism Planning Board continued to recognize the importance of local arts and culture." said Nick Helmholdt, Tompkins County Tourism Program Director. "This last year has challenged many of us to our limits. These local arts and cultural organizations can help us find inspiration through this stressful time and help us welcome visitors back to Tompkins County when they're ready to travel."

Arts and Culture Organizational Development grants support local organizations that enhance Tompkins County’s brand as an artistic and cultural destination and in turn enrich the quality of life for residents through their offerings. They are administered by the Community Arts Partnership with funds from the Tompkins County Tourism Program and provide general operating support and funding for specific organizational development activities.

The Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County provides grants, services, and programs to artists and audiences. CAP connects artists and audiences through the Greater Ithaca Art Trail, Ithaca Artist Market, Spring Writes Literary Festival, and the CAP ArtSpace Gallery. CAP provides grants, a professional development workshop series, and other resources for artists. For more information on the Community Arts Partnership and its programs and services, visit  


Latest Grantees - $60,400 for local arts programming!

Funds for the three grants below are from New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). Every County in the State gets a chunk of money through NYSCA to re-grant with local decision making! We distribute the funds for Tompkins County.

Take a look at all the awardees! Isn't this exciting? As these events are scheduled, you'll find the dates in this monthly Artsletter in the "Local Artistic Offerings" below. And you can always sign up for the newsletters of these organizations, or join them on social media to stay tuned.

CAP's Grants for Arts Programs:
Ballet Guild: Nutcracker virtual performance
Cayuga Vocal Ensemble: Outdoor Spring Concert
Civic Ensemble: ReEntry Theatre
Cooperative Extension: “All Black Everything,” virtual arts festival featuring artists that identify as black by Kenneth McLaurin.
Cooperative Extension: “Ithaca is Black Too.” arts highlighting Ithaca’s rich Black history and culture with Kenneth McLaurin & SingTrece.
Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers: Concert Season
Downtown Ithaca Alliance: First Friday Gallery Nights & Virtual Events
Dryden Intergenerational Band & Chorus: Virtual Community Performances
Greater Ithaca Activities Center: Artists for monthly Senior Breakfasts
Groton Public Library: Family virtual performances
Ithaca Children’s Garden: Haudenosaunee performances
Ithaca Community Orchestra: Concerts season
Ithaca Gay Men’s Choir: Broadway themed performance
Latino Civic Association:  CULTURA Ithaca arts and cultural events
Newfield Public Library: Series of artistic offerings for families
Primary Performance Group: “Dancing Dialogues” performances
Southside Community Center: (sponsor for Ithaca Murals): “ReAwakening” Green Street mural by 4 Black local artists.
Southworth Library: Puppet performances and workshop
State of the Art Gallery: Monthly exhibits and juried online exhibits
State Theatre: Livestream events
Triphammer Arts: “Drive-In LIVE,” series of outdoor, live music concerts
Triphammer Arts: Moving Landscapes/Choreographers’ showcase
Triphammer Arts (sponsor for Kathy Lucas & Megan Omohundro) ”Masters of Movement, performance series with dancers of color
Village at Ithaca: “Stolen Joy,” instagram project - true stories by students of color performed by professional actors virtually
Village at Ithaca (sponsor for Circus Culture): “Circus Season on the Waterfront,” outdoor performances along the waterfront trail
Walking on Water Productions: Virtual performance of “Comfort Food” musical

Arts Education Grant
Greater Ithaca Activity Center: Tap, African Drumming/Dance, Jump & Step Cultural Exchange Program
Greater Ithaca Activity Center: Art Education and Art Instructio
Elisa Keeler: with Russell I. Doig Middle School (T-burg) Voices for Social Justice Project
Circus Culture with Village at Ithaca; Circus Learning
Leanora Erica Mims with DeWitt Middle School: Historical Quilt Project
Kenneth McLaurin with Cooperative Ext: Stories from Not Old People
Groton Recreation with Cheerful & Creative Art Studio Instruction

Artist in Community Grant
Circus Culture: “Under the Bridge,” aerial dance pieces
Elisa Keeler: Social justice music piece with Tompkins county singers
Juan Manuel Aldape Munez: New dance theater in collaboration with Latinx community members
Paulina Velázquez Solis: “A river of all ages” photography and video project with Brooktondale community

Laura Rowley: Collaborative book project with St. John’s Community Services Emergency Shelter and Friendship Center
Candace Edwards: Audio art project centering on local Black-Queer voices


Dr. Christine Kitano is our new Poet Laurate

The Community Arts Partnership administers the Tompkins County Poet Laureate Program. On July 19, 2020, the Tompkins County Legislature appointed Dr. Christine Kitano as the County’s 10th Poet Laureate.

Explains Megan Barber, (E.D. of CAP), “We received nominations for eight outstanding local poets, each with unique ideas about how to put poetry in service to the community. We are so excited about Dr. Kitano’s appointment.”

In her letter nominating Dr. Kitano, Dr. Eleanor Henderson, Robert Ryan Professor in the Humanities and Chair of the Dept. of Writing at Ithaca College, praised Dr. Kitano’s commitment to equity, inclusion, and antiracism, adding “Dr. Kitano has a calm, confident way of bringing people together around language, and I could imagine her doing so again and again in the position of Poet Laureate."

Amanda Champion, Tompkins Co. Legislator, had this to say: "The talent and beauty of our community never ceases to amaze me. We’re delighted to welcome Dr. Kitano in this role and look forward to a year of poignant prose that will capture the moment and inspire us all.”
READ MORE about Dr. Kitano

In Solidarity - United to End Racism

Dear CAP Family,
The CAP board and staff are committed to working in support of justice, fairness, and equity.  We commit to:

  • Reviewing our programs, services, policies, and procedures to gain a baseline understanding of where CAP stands in terms of racial equity, and then taking action;
  • Being true to the word “community” in our name, and building relationships with Black and Indigenous artists, artists of color, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-led organizations throughout Tompkins County;
  • Staying accountable to BIPOC-led organizations in our community, as well as to our partner arts and nonprofit organizations also committed to this work.


Ithaca named 4th most arts-vibrant medium sized community

The Arts Vibrancy Index Report, compiled by SMU DataArts, ranks more than 900 communities across the country, examining the level of supply, demand and government support for the arts in each city. And Ithaca ranked 4th most vibrant in medium-sized communities!
The findings help illustrate the critical role of the arts, both socially and economically, in cities and towns around the nation. At this historic moment, the report serves as a pre-pandemic benchmark of where the most arts-vibrant communities are located.

CAP Executive Director Megan Barber says: "The recognition of the Ithaca area as a top arts-vibrant community underscores the importance of the arts to our region, both in terms of quality of life and as an economic engine. During the pandemic, our local artists and art groups are helping people process emotion and maintain connections, and are bringing in new audiences through creative virtual and live events. The fact that Ithaca has been named the 4th most arts-vibrant community means it’s critical that all of us support this vital segment of our economy.