What is art? Ah, the eternally puzzling question. But here’s another, more timely and relevant to Central New York: What is an arts covenant?
CNY Arts Covenant, an initiative designed to encourage people to support the arts and arts organizations in the area, is awarding four grants of $1,000 each to artists who can best answer that question and convey what a covenant to support the arts might mean. The selected artists’ works will be presented to Arts Covenant participants who have completed one to four specific tasks related to the arts locally.
“The covenant is really people’s commitment to try to think about art,” said coordinator Mary Stanley. “The way it does that is by asking people who sign up and become part of the covenant to fulfill four art-based agreements in a year’s time.”
The first agreement in the covenant is to buy three pieces of art made by local artists, a step designed to help people think about art when they purchase items of meaning, said Stanley. The second agreement is to attend a type of art event with which he or she is unfamiliar. “If they’ve never gone to an opera, they go to an opera. Or a dance,” said Stanley. “It’s up to people to define what they’ve never experienced in the arts.”
Step three is to enter into a new cultural space. “We’re asking people to attend an event that is put on by a culture that they don’t know much about,” Stanley noted. “Maybe a best way to learn something about that culture is to learn something about their art.” The last agreement is to take part in art, whether it be to volunteer for an arts organization, take an arts course or simply plant a garden in your yard.
Once members of the Arts Covenant complete each step, they receive pieces of local art—art the Arts Covenant is searching for with the grant competition. “Many times artists are asked to contribute something to a fundraiser,” said Stanley. “But we want to reward artists for participating in the covenant. It’s really a way to signal to everyone that artists should be paid.”
The competition has three distinct categories. One of the grants will be awarded to an artist for making 50 pieces of art, valued at $20 each. Two more grants will be awarded to artists for making 10 pieces of art, valued at $100 each. Finally, one grant will be awarded to an artist for making four pieces of art valued at $250 each. The value of the art is determined by the artist.
When members of the Arts Covenant complete their agreements, they will receive one of the small pieces of art. The larger pieces of art will be awarded to members who have completed their Arts Covenant, in a monthly drawing. The grants will make it possible for artists to complete their work, and the work will motivate those in the Arts Covenant to participate in the area’s arts. “It is to encourage people to fulfill their Arts Covenants,” said Stanley, “and also to honor artists in the community by offering four grants to support artists in this difficult economy.”
The grant money was supplied by a Kauffman Grant through Le Moyne College. “The foundation is about a new initiative, to try to get arts resources out to the community,” said Stanley. “We’re trying to encourage demand and encourage supply.”
The Arts Covenant is asking artists to submit a color photo of their work to artscov@gmail. com by May 31. Submitted work can be anything from a completed piece of art to a sketch of the work. Any type of media is acceptable. The only requirement is that the work of art expresses what an arts covenant might mean.
“It could be the Arts Covenant logo on a mug. It could be ceramics. It could be jewelry. It just has to be an original art produced locally,” explained Stanley. “It could be 10 bracelets at $100 each. It could be a tile. It doesn’t have to have the logo. It just has to show the beauty of the arts. It’s really open to the creativity of the artist.”
For more information about the CNY Arts Covenant, visit their website at www.artscovenant.com.