Celebrating the Arts

By Charles McKenzie, December 20, 2019
IC named a Friend of the Arts by the Community Arts Partnership.

Ever since its founding as a music conservatory downtown, Ithaca College has supported artists and art education around the world, but that has always started at home, in Ithaca and Tompkins County.

Last month, the Community Arts Partnership (CAP) honored IC and its nearly 25-year relationship with CAP, giving the college the Friends of the Arts Award in recognition of “IC’s support of the arts through its top quality academic programing, community collaborations and leadership in supporting the arts throughout Tompkins County.” Usually given to individuals, this was the first time the award was given to an organization.

CAP’s board president John Saunders, of Tompkins Financial Corporation, presented the award Nov. 20 at a breakfast with CAPS supporters at La Tourelle Hotel. Saunders does not have to look far to see IC’s connection to the local arts community. Its reach extends all the way into his home, he said. His two boys are cellists who study and play at IC on Saturdays.

“So far beyond that though, IC’s accessibility and its impact on the arts community touch everyone in the area,” he said. “CAP could not survive and exist without the support of Ithaca College. This is just a small token to thank IC.”

IC’s President Shirley M. Collado accepted the award but said it was anything but small.

“We will always celebrate the arts and the power of being liberally educated.”

President Shirley M. Collado

“It’s huge, a very special honor for us,” she said. “As a member of this community, it’s important to me, to us, that Ithaca College not just sit up on the hill or even just be a donor. This is about a partnership, about activating social change in our community and affirming creative energy. I can’t imagine a better way to do it than through the power and collaboration of the arts.”

Even after the conservatory became Ithaca College and even after it moved up the hill, IC remained rooted in the arts and downtown.

“We will always celebrate the arts and the power of being liberally educated,” Collado said. “Even when we’re training someone in health sciences, business or chemistry, everything we do in our liberal arts core starts first and foremost with the arts. We’re really proud of infusing that in so many ways in the community, and then we gain back so much too, especially from all of the area’s great artistic talent. We need the arts and that work so desperately in the world right now.”

award plaque

Starting last year, IC began sponsoring the Spring Writes Literary Festival in downtown Ithaca. The four-day event in several locations around Ithaca Commons includes readings and workshops.

The recipients of the award are not just sponsors of CAP, said executive director John Spence.  

“All of them are deeply involved with the arts and culture community of Tompkins County, and they're supportive of several organizations, not just CAP, so this is a way to recognize that generosity as well.”

CAP has helped drive Tompkins County’s vibrant arts community. It is the county’s only not-for-profit that acts as an advocate and supporter of the arts, strengthening services and resources for artists and the arts and facilitating collaboration among the arts, government, education, and business. CAP administers local grant funding from the New York Council on the Arts, administers the Tompkins County Arts and Organizational Development program and coordinates the annual summer Artist Market and the Greater Ithaca Art Trail (every October).