Robotics classes. Historical exhibits and lectures. Digitizing archives. And yes, even new port-a-potties will be paid for by grants to several organizations in Riverhead. Four nonprofits — the Long Island Science Center, Hallockville Museum Farm, the Suffolk County Historical Society and East End Arts — are the recipients of nearly $115,000 from the New York State Council on the Arts.
For the Long Island Science Center, $25,000 in grant money means the ability to continue offering free or low-cost programs for the community. “We are extremely grateful to Gov. Hochul, Assemblywoman Giglio, Sen. Palumbo and NYSCA for recognizing what we do,” said its board president, Larry Oxman.. The grant will allow more youngsters to take part in “Science Saturdays,” rocketry, robotics events, “Crime Detectives” and “Gross Boogers and Body Science,” which Mr. Oxman said is “a favorite” among kids.
The Suffolk County Historical Society plans to turn its $30,000 grant into new exhibits and programming. Executive director Victoria Berger said “the funding will enable us to bring in additional talent, hire guest curators and presenters to improve our events tremendously.” Part of the focus will be on the history of music on Long Island, including a concert series highlighting the instruments that were developed here. Grant funds will also go towards digitizing archival documents so they can be preserved and exhibited.
“It was very exciting to get the grant,” said Ms. Berger “This was a significant increase over last year and it opens a lot of doors for us because as a nonprofit, our budgets are so conservative.” She explained that a small part of the money is being spent on the current “Sportsmen’s Paradise” exhibit, which traces the evolution of hunting on Long Island over the past 100 years from a focus on subsistence and sport to conservation.
Riverhead’s Hallockville Museum Farm also received $30,000 to enhance its mission of preserving Long Island’s farming heritage. The money will be used to pay property insurance covering the 19 historic buildings that dot the 28-acre farm, which costs approximately $25,000 annually.
“We have a lot of liability exposure. Now we can pay the insurance all at once and then devote our resources to other areas,” said Suzanne Johnson, co-vice president of Hallockville’s board of directors. “The state has recognized the importance of what we’re accomplishing and this grant is significant for us. Small museums like ours need general operating support.”
“We’ll also use part of the grant for our port-a-potties,” Ms. Johnson said. “We use them from May to September for several of our events.” There are plans next fall to spend about $1 million for an innovative sustainable septic system to support new indoor bathrooms at the Naugles barn as well as a food prep area. Funding for that project will come from private donations and a separate $500,000 grant from the state.
The fourth recipient, East End Arts on Main Street in downtown Riverhead, was also awarded a NYSCA grant, for which it applies each year. Executive director Diane Burke said that “just to be operational, we have to raise $600K a year. So this helps and allows us to keep our doors open.” EEA hasn’t earmarked the funding for a specific project or event. “There are things that are not sexy, like the lights, the heat and the auditor,” Ms. Burke said. “All things we need to be a public space.
“The largest we’ve received [from NYSCA] was about $49K,” Ms. Burke added. “And one year we received another $10K for our social media outreach. Money from the state helps us be who we are.”
In a recent press release, Gov. Kathy Hochul said, “Research confirms what we’ve always known here in New York: Arts and culture are a powerhouse. Nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences generated $151.7 billion in economic activity nationwide in 2022.”
The Riverhead nonprofits are among 1,500 New York artists and organizations that received over $80 million in funding this year.
In a NYSCA press release, chairman Katherine Nicholls said: “These organizations and artists together are a powerful driver of health, tourism, economy and education for our residents and visitors. On behalf of the Council and staff, congratulations and thank you for your perseverance, your creativity and your tireless service to New York State.”