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 in this time of quarantine. 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)


April Newsletter's "Read More" Articles!

Click the title below to go to corresponding section

  The Arts are Contagious - CAP Donor - Tom Bohn

  Grantee Focus - Kennth McLaurin

Sixteen Arts Organizations receive County Funding through CAP


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
* The Arts are Contagious - CAP Donor - Tom Bohn
* February Celebration of the Arts - watch the video
* 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

Spring is a time for renewal and regeneration, and this year I feel that more strongly than ever.  As I walk around town, I see crocuses and snowdrops, robins and bluebirds.  And the arts community is buzzing with new growth as well.

Arts organizations around the county are preparing to open for live performances.  Cinemapolis has opened for small group movie parties, the Hangar Theatre is gearing up for a fully outdoor summer season, and the Shuttered Venue Operator Grants and New York State's Excelsior Pass promise to keep our cultural institutions in our lives for this season and the years to come.

CAP is getting ready to launch a new Creative Recovery Fund, seeded with support from the Community Foundation of Tompkins County.  The fund will provide financial support to artists and art groups engaged in the recovery.  We'll be sharing more details soon about how you can add your support to this fund!
And we're so happy to welcome two new business sponsors to the CAP family: STREAM Collaborative, who is sponsoring the Greater Ithaca Art Trail; and Visions Federal Credit Union, who will be sponsoring this newsletter!  We are grateful for their support and the support of all our business partners.
With best wishes for a renewing Spring,


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




The Arts are Contagious 
CAP Donor Feature - Tom Bohn

Tom Bohn served on the CAP board for six years, ending as president. He believes in the importance of the arts, and the need to serve his community. “The arts elevate, illuminate, and celebrate,” he said. “They elevate discourse and illuminate ideas. Arts are a celebration.”

What a wonderful way to describe the arts, I said. May I steal this? “Sure,” he responded. “I spent years writing good copy!”

For 23 years, he served as Dean of the Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. After retiring, he volunteered at the college, and for Challenge Industries. “Then Brett Bossard, who was then the executive director at CAP and had been a student at the Park School, asked me to be on the board,” he said. “It was a good board to be on.”

As an undergraduate, Professor Bohn was involved in theatre and music, and even had a state scholarship for singing. “The arts are part of my life,” he said. “But I figured out that I wasn’t going to make a living as a singer.” So he got PhD in Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison .Now his oldest grandson is majoring in theatre at Roosevelt college. “His mother said, where did he get that? I told her that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Although he has been too busy to join any of the local choirs, Bohn said, “I worked my way through grad school in a folk trio, making extra money beyond my teaching assistantship. For three years, we were The Snack Sneakers, because we were all pretty big guys. We had a wonderful time. I still keep in touch with them. It was a way to celebrate our talent.”

“The arts are contagious,” Bohn added. “Especially in these times, we look to the arts to learn about areas we haven’t thought of.”

After teaching at the University Wisconsin Madison, and the University of Massachusetts, Bohn came to Ithaca in 1980. In his “retirement,” he teaches two courses at Ithaca College—one  large lecture in Mass Communication, and a smaller class in American Film. “I’m enjoying sharing my scholarship with a new group of students,” he said. In order to teach on Zoom, he explained, “I’ve had to sharpen and focus my lectures, make them more precise. You can’t do a lot of information online.”

He also spends time with family. One of his four children lives in Ithaca, along with his wife and  their three children. “It’s our COVID bubble,” Bohn said.

I ask him what advice he would give about raising money for the arts. “You have to gain trust and respect,” he replied. He tells me about a Park School donor who gave small gifts for years to support student films. Every year, Bohn made sure that the donor received copies of the films and thank-yous from the students. When the donor passed away, his will gave $17 million to the Park School.

“To who much good has been given, much good is required,” Bohn concluded. He has always lived up to that statement.

Grantee Feature
Kenneth McLaurin's many projects!

by CAP Ithaca College intern, Adam Dee)

Kenneth McLaurin is a stand-up comedian, storyteller, screenwriter, actor, poet, producing and performing artist who has been awarded several of CAP’s grants over the past year.

He calls himself “The Funniest Person You’ve Never Heard Of,” but his recent projects and productions, as well as being named Ithaca’s Best Comedian, have seen him gaining more well-deserved attention.

In such a politically driven world, Kenneth sees comedy as both a way to escape the turmoil around us as well as dissect the issues: “Some people like to use comedy to get away from the mundane things in their life, but other people, they like humor as a way to engage and critique politics. Satire is humor and it’s critical. They say, historically, the court jester was the one that could really say the things that other people couldn’t.

Last October, Kenneth received funding from CAP’s SOS Grant (Specific Opportunity Stipend) to create a short film, The So You Think You’re Anti-Racist Competition, as well as promotional material for the project, including a theatrical trailer. He is shooting the film at the Kitchen Theatre, under social distance regulations, and will screen it as part of the Kitchen Sink series. Kenneth has also partnered with local movie theatre Cinemapolis to have a limited theatrical release. This will be Kenneth’s first time pushing a project beyond local live performances, taking the work to film and preparing for sale and distribution. Creating a marketing campaign for the film on social media will allow Kenneth to extend the reach of his work past his local community to entertain new audiences.

The So You Think You’re Anti-Racist Competition will explore themes relevant to today’s culture and social movements: “I really want to explore the idea of what anti-racism is, what allyship is, and let people look at what’s going on from a black person’s point of view. With what's going on in the world, especially in ithaca, allyship is really big and people are into bettering themselves and becoming allies. I think its interesting to see allyship and being woke and being a good person in general, and make a competition out of it. I think its a good method to show the funny ways that people approach allyship.”

Kenneth also received a GAP Grant (Grants for Arts Programs) through the non-profit he works for as an educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension, for the All Black Everything Arts Festival (ABE). ABE is a four day virtual festival that celebrates the stories of Black Americans through their art. Both local and national black artists come together to share their art and experiences as black artists with the Tompkins County Community. Each day showcases a different artistic genre: music, performative and literary arts, visual works, and arts and wellness. All the attending artists are recognized in the art world, whether that be national acclaim or local recognition. The festival was hosted online and was totally virtual.

Through Cooperative Extension again, Kenneth received another GAP Grant for his project, Ithaca is Black People Too, a virtual community show that showcases Ithaca’s rich Black history and culture. Kenneth, along with his wife Elbonee “SingTrece” McLaurin, perform as Singing Notes and Slinging Jokes, a performing artist couple where Kenneth works his comedic magic while SingTrece sings with her gorgeous and powerful voice. The duo perform, produce, and record the show, which was created through community generated and original music, poems, and stories that will focus on Ithaca and diversity in an uplifting manner. Using the Kitchen Theatre to record the show, Kenneth and SingTrece would premiere it across different social media and digital accounts online. They would then go on to release it across Tompkins county by providing it to multiple social organizations who would also post it online.

The last grant Kenneth received was an Arts Education Grant for Stories From Not Old People. Kenneth, along with Chris Holmes, the founder and creative director of Little Whale Productions, will be working with a small group of high school students to teach them digital storytelling. Through 6 workshops over the course of 8 weeks, Kenneth and Chris will help the students learn how to share their own stories through the use of technology. The theme for this project is 2020, as it was a year like no other, and the participants will create 2-5 minute digital stories exploring their experiences. Through this project, the two teachers wish to make students feel empowered and confident in their voice and recognize they can be an instrument for change.

Kenneth is grateful to CAP for helping him reach new audiences and pursue his goals of empowering his community: “For me specifically, CAP helps me connect with an audience that wouldn't really find me otherwise. As a local black comedian, most of the people who are affiliated with CAP wouldn't have been able to find me without promotion. Through their social media feeds, they probably don't have much information on black comedians with smaller followings. But CAP helps me to present my art and my story, these experiences as a black person living in Ithaca, to a wider audience. They’re also great in helping me to connect with funders who see me as worthy as one of the many nonprofit theatres and want to help me create more stuff!

Chamber Member of the Week
Watch the Video

In early March, the Community Arts Partnership was the Tompkins County Chamber's Member of the Week!
Click the image at left to watch the interview with CAP Executive Director, Megan Barber.


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


CAP Welcomes Two New Board Members
Ritza Francois and Alexander Phillips

As a Member Relationship Manager at the Tompkins Chamber, Ritza Francois brings expertise in business development and marketing to the CAP Board along with in-depth experience supporting Tompkins County not-for-profit organizations, and small, medium, and large businesses. As far back as high school, Ritza was a Teen Academy Image Maker at the International Center of Photography in NYC, and ever since, she has been supporting artists on the front lines. At CAP, she plans on training and supporting local artists in marketing and branding, and looks forward to helping especially those in Black and marginalized communities promote themselves.

Alexander Phillips is currently a planner for the City of Ithaca, where he is integrally involved in Plan Ithaca’s Phase 2. Right now, this exciting work is focused on the Greater Southside Neighborhood Plan and the Waterfront Plan. At the same time, Alex is a natural fit with CAP because he is the Planning Division’s liaison for public art programs and public art subcommittees—in this role, he has identified multiple city-owned sites for public art projects and looks forward to better connecting CAP with urban planning in Tompkins County as well as furthering his already significant connections in the county’s artistic community. When asked for a quote, Alex gave us “A great chair is like a face...,you meet thousands but few are memorable.” -Ross Lovegrove (1997)


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.