This posts is the third in a series of posts examining the awards approved by the Regional
Economic Development Councils (REDC) from the perspective of the Path through History.
Below is a list of projects which were found based on the term “history” for the search criteria. Although there are not many grants with a specifically historical-focus, the ones that do tend to be funded by New York State Council on the Arts as part of its Culture & Heritage Project Grant. Below are the awards for 2014 by the Council of Arts that are relevant to the history community.
Capital Region: Albany County
Applicant: Albany Institute of History and Art
Project Title: Top 50 Exhibit
Description: Top 50 is an exhibition at Albany Institute of History and Art that presents the top
50 people, places, and events of the Capital Region through historic and fine art objects, imagery and multimedia presentations. The exhibit will also include educational and community engagement programs.
Capital Region: Greene County
Applicant: Greene County Council on the Arts
Project Title: Mainly Greene American Masquerade
Description: The Catskill Mountain Foundation, Greene County Council on the Arts, Masters on Main Street, the Prattsville Art Center & Residency and the Zadock Pratt
Museum will partner to create “American Masquerade” bringing residents from Catskill Mountain towns together with hundreds of visual and performing artists in a yearlong project exploring connections between masked identity through regional history, music, and contemporary art.
Long Island: Nassau and Suffolk Counties
Applicant: Long Island Tradition
Project Title: Changing Tides Exhibits and Tours
Description Changing Tides: Traditional Maritime Culture on Long Island is a series of
programs on Long Island’s south shore that examines the region’s maritime culture and traditional occupations through exhibits, tours and educational programming for audiences of all ages. ‘Changing Tides’ will attract new audiences who value waterfront destinations while supporting local businesses.
Mohawk Valley: Schoharie County
Project Title: Breadbasket Heritage Trail
Description: The Village of Middleburgh will sponsor and create the Breadbasket Heritage Trail. Starting in 2015, the community will build a series of stops along this trail to educate residents and visitors of the Schoharie Valley’s rich and diverse history. A map of the area’s regional historic sites, with literature, will be funded through this grant.
North Country: Hamilton County
Applicant: Adirondack Historical Association
Project Title: The Adirondack Experience Exhibit
Description: The Adirondack Experience will allow visitors to experience life in the
Adirondacks through history with a series of interrelated, hands-on, family friendly exhibitions that reflect current interpretive trends in the history museum field.
The awards by the New York State Council on the Arts evidenced here tend to be exhibit oriented. However, one may observe in the Village of Middleburgh the potential for the creation of a path through history. The very wording of the description supports the notion of precisely such a project. The applicant uses the word “trail” (perhaps a carryover from Governor Pataki’s efforts) to showcase the “rich and diverse history” of the municipality complete with a map. I venture to say that every municipality (and neighborhood in New York City) could do the exact same thing. Some municipalities have already such as Hastings-on-Hudson here in Westchester. These local trails easily lend themselves to being incorporated in the school curriculum. The odds are the stops on the trail address many of the time periods, events, and themes in the new social studies frameworks. One can even imagine an app being created for the trail. Wouldn’t that be a great high school senior service project?
I have no idea whether or not the Breadbasket Heritage Trail will beckon out-of-state or foreign tourists nor do I know what local accommodations are available for tourists who do walk/bike/drive the trail. I also don’t know if there will be any connection to any other trails, paths, routes, or historic sites in Schoharie County as part of a larger project.
What I do know is that this is precisely the type of project which the Path through History should be championing not simply for its tourist potential but “to educate residents” as the Village of Middleburgh said in its application. Do we really need to be reminded how important a sense of place, a sense of belonging, a sense of community is to the future of the municipality, the state, and the country? Would we rather our residents didn’t feel connected to where they live?