ArtsWestchester Provided $730,000+ to Artists During the Pandemic

Artist Chris Soria working on one of his murals at the Ridge Hill Shopping Center in Yonkers (photo credit: Dave Steck)

ArtsWestchester recently reported that it delivered more than $730,000 to 77 artists during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the leading arts agency is poised to do more to put artists and creative workers back to work by announcing a call for applications for a new round of grants. The initiative, made possible by the Westchester and Rockland delegations of the New York State Legislature, will launch this month.

Pandemic commissions produced new works at Ridge Hill Shopping Center and South Broadway in Yonkers, City Square in White Plains, and the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Two public art commissions of $56,000 in 2020-21 helped muralist Chris Soria find additional commissions.

Says Soria: “The pandemic upended a lot of the art jobs and projects I had lined up that year. ArtsWestchester was a silver lining through it all, and incredibly supportive in organizing my largest mural to date, The Flux of Being, on the shared use path of the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. The project led to additional commissions at Ridge Hill, which led to more large-scale work elsewhere. This enabled me to buy a house with my partner for our family in Nyack – a dream come true for us.”

Adam Chau, a ceramic artist from Cold Spring, received a $500 grant in 2020.

“I was working on a new body of work where I was experimenting with new material and I was really uncomfortable making the investment to make this body of work because I didn’t know what the outcome would be,” said Chau. “So, I really thank ArtsWestchester for giving me the funds to experiment and be brave enough to take new steps and continue my work in new directions.”

Nationally, financial losses to nonprofit arts and culture organizations are estimated at $17.97 billion, according to Americans for the Arts.

“We paid out commissions and grants at a time when artists – like so many other Americans – experienced income disruption and financial hardship,” said ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam. “In some cases, these funds were lifelines for artists who lost jobs as our society locked down.”

ArtsWestchester will continue to raise support for artists through its online gala auction and at its November 20 ReStart the Arts Gala at The Opus Westchester in White Plains. The event honors the Westchester and Rockland Delegations of the New York State Legislature for allocating $1 million to the new ReStart the Arts grants program, a legislative initiative to power the cultural industry.

Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins explains the importance of these efforts to help the arts make a comeback: “There’s no way that we can restart our economy without restarting the arts.”

A version of this article first appeared in the November issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at​​​

About ArtsWestchester

For more than 50 years, ArtsWestchester has been the community’s connection to the arts. Founded in 1965, it is the largest private not-for-profit arts council in New York State. Its mission is to create an equitable, inclusive, vibrant and sustainable Westchester County in which the arts are integral to and integrated into every facet of life. ArtsWestchester provides programs and services that enrich the lives of everyone in Westchester County. ArtsWestchester helps fund concerts, exhibitions and plays through grants; brings artists into schools and community centers; advocates for the arts; and builds audiences through diverse marketing initiatives. In 1998, ArtsWestchester purchased the nine-story neo-classical bank building at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue which has since been transformed into a multi-use resource for artists, cultural organizations and the community. A two-story gallery is located on the first floor of ArtsWestchester’s historic building on Mamaroneck Avenue.