Providing grants, programs, and services to the artists and audiences of Tompkins County for 30 years

CAP Latest News

CAP Latest News

For our latest grant awardees, visit our "Recent Grantee Page"

Read our latest (June 28, 2024) ArtsLetter!

* Welcome Kenneth McLaurin as our new team member!
* Ithaca Ranked in Top 40 Arts Vibrant Communities
* Nov. 2023: CAP Honors Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Rachel Lampert and Sue Perlgut
* THANK YOU for an amazing 2023!


Welcome Kenneth McLaurin!

The Community Arts Partnership is thrilled to welcome Kenneth McLaurin to our team as our Program & Communications Specialist.

Sir Kenneth is known as a quintuple threat as a comedian, storyteller, playwright, and actor. His unique humor, insightful social commentary, and the ability to connect with diverse audiences have made him a beloved figure in the arts scene.

Sir Kenneth's work extends beyond entertainment; he's a community builder who has played a pivotal role in developing the local comedy landscape. His motto, "Life's a joke, find the funny," captures his approach to both life and work, using comedy not just to entertain but to bring people together, challenge norms, and enrich the cultural fabric of our community.

Sir Kenneth's rich experience in comedy, storytelling, and community building uniquely equips him to drive our mission forward. His work is set to enrich our programs and initiatives, making the arts more accessible and engaging for everyone in our community.


Ithaca Ranked in Top 40 Arts-Vibrant Communities

Ithaca has been listed in the top 40 most arts-vibrant communities in the US and ranks in the top 10 most arts-vibrant medium-size communities, according to the SMU Data Arts’ Arts Vibrancy Index Report.

The Report celebrates arts-vibrant communities across the US even as they grapple with the ongoing realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and examines the level of supply, demand, and government support of the arts in more than 900 communities across the country.

Of particular note, Ithaca was ranked 1st in the nation in Government Support, and is within the top 1% on sub-measures related to state art dollars, federal arts dollars, and federal art grants per capita.

“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,” says Megan Barber, CAP's Executive Director.

Adds Barber, ““It’s wonderful to receive this recognition, and yet our local arts sector, particularly the performing arts, is in crisis right now as audiences have still not come back in sufficient numbers. To keep the Ithaca area arts-vibrant, I encourage everyone to support our local arts organizations!”


2023 CAP Honorees

On November 14th, CAP held a Celebration of the Arts for our 2023 donors, sponsors, and grantees. 

At the event, we gathered everyone into our CAP Artspace and presented three awards to three community leaders who have spearheaded and supported the creation of a vibrant arts community. We thank these recipients for their heartfelt and wonderful comments.

Leslyn McBean-Clairborne and Rachel Lampert were the recipients of CAP's Community Arts Catalyst Award (for spearheading the creation of vibrant art and arts opportunities in Tompkins County), and Sue Perlgut was the recipient of CAP's Friend of the Arts award for her generous support of the Community Arts Partnership’s mission to advance the Arts throughout Tompkins County.

(L to R: Sue, Rachel, Leslyn)

Leslyn McBean-Clairborne is many things in Tompkins County. She has been the Director of the Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC) for 7 years, prior to which she served as the Deputy Director since 2003. She has served the community as a member of the Tompkins County Legislature for over 20 years and was vice-chair for three years and Chair of the Legislature for 2 years.

Leslyn has been an important advocate for human rights and diversity in Tompkins County through her work at GIAC and the legislature. She is also a trained actress and performer, spoken work artist and narrator, has been seen in many local stage productions and has written and performed her own theatrical work. Most of her self-composed work focuses on introducing audiences to the Black experience and to Black history.

Under her guidance, the Greater Ithaca Activities Center has a truly amazing staff that provide the community with exceptional and innovative arts programs, many funded by Community Arts Partnership grants. Those include monthly performers for the Senior Breakfast, the GIAC Jumpers, Phat Flow Factory (a rap and spoken work group), the Urban Art group, and local performers at their Black History Month and Festival of Nations events. In addition, she has worked with staff to offer a Performance Arts school-year group with emphasis on creating music, playing instruments, and voice training.

Rachel Lampert is a playwright, director, and choreographer who began her career in NYC. In 1997, she was appointed Artistic Director of the Kitchen Theatre Company and during her twenty-year tenure, she focused on expanding the repertory to include new plays, alternative theatrical formats, solo performances, movement-based work, and original musicals.

A strong advocate for young theater artists, she gave first-time directing opportunities to many young directors, mostly women, who continue to make theater nationwide. She championed playwrights by producing early-career writers on the Kitchen Theatre Mainstage and broadened the experience of the audience by hosting Kitchen Counter Culture, a series devoted to BIPOC solo performers. She has directed and choreographed at the Hangar Theatre, and has served on the INHS Board. 

She started her own company, Fitz&Startz Productions, in 2015 to have a home for her plays for younger audiences.

She retired from the Kitchen in 2017 and then came out of retirement and returned to lead the theater for their 2023-24 season and to help it find a sustainable future.

Her solo work is vast! Read much more about Rachel at her wikipedia page.

This year's recipient of our CAP Friend of the Arts Award is local artist Sue Perlgut. 

In addition to being a supporter of Tompkins County arts organizations, Sue has created a large body of work with lasting and local impact.

She has worked in theatre in NYC and Ithaca for more than 40 years as a teacher, actor, director, storyteller, puppet maker and playwright. Sue co-founded It’s All Right To Be Woman Theatre in NYC in 1970, a troupe that performed stories from their lives and is now featured in a documentary by Sue and Nils Hoover. She founded The Senior Troupe of Lifelong, where for 23 years she directed, wrote, and sometimes performed as the troupe told stories from their lives. In the 1980's, Sue was director of our predecessor, the Tompkins County Arts council.Sue was one of the organizers of the Women’s March in Ithaca in 2017 and made a short video to capture that day. This past fall Sue was one of the organizers, along with End Abortion Stigma, of Ithaca’s first Reproductive Justice Film Festival held at Cinemapolis. Sue has, in the past, served as board chair of GIAC, the Kitchen Theatre, and the Tompkins County Tourism Board. She is currently co-Chair of the board of Cinemapolis.

Sue formed CloseToHome Productions in 2007 to reach a wide-ranging audience with videos that feature topical and socially relevant issues.  See them at


Thank you to our supporters, sponsors, and friends for a powerful 2023!

Because above all, the Community Arts Partnership is just that – a partnership. And it takes all of us working hand in hand to make our community a work of art.

  • The arts groups and organizations that collaborate and adapt and make opportunities for all of us to experience the arts.
  • The artists that through their creations help us make meaning of the world, understand our interconnectedness, and light a way forward to the world we want to live in.
  • The audiences that open their hearts to art and allow themselves to feel, learn, grow, and connect.
  • You, the donors, whose combined generosity gives energy to help the arts flourish.

  • Engaged more artists than ever before in 2022, supporting them in their careers through outreach, one-on-one brainstorming, workshops and opportunities to sell and share their art with the public.
  • Grew each of our programs with more artist, more access, and greater audiences.
  • Created a new vision: A world where the arts and artists thrive.
  • And a new mission: To strengthen the arts in Tompkins County by supporting artists and arts groups, ensuring equitable access to the arts, and cultivating a creative culture that reflects our community’s diversity.
  • Distributed $685,000 through six grant programs that funded over 500 local artists, arts organizations and community organizations.

Image Captions: L to R Clockwise:  Nicole Costas ArtSpace exhibit, Mary Ann Bowman on the Greater Ithaca Art Trail, a Spring Writes Literary Festival workshop, The Underground Railroad mural with Dr. Nia Nunn and CUMEP students; yen ospina at the Ithaca Artist Market, the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers, Bree Barton (l) and Rayan (r) at Bree's Naming the Unnamable exhibit at the CAP Artspace.

We wish you the best for an artful and creative 2024!