By Brian Kamsoke
NORWICH – Each year the Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival attracts 14-15,000 people to East and West Parks in downtown Norwich the first weekend after Labor Day. They enjoy a free festival of juried art and music in an interactive atmosphere featuring artist demonstrations, free arts activities, a student art exhibit, a competitive poetry slam, and creative food vending.
But there is so much more that goes on “behind the scenes” in preparation for that one weekend event. And much of it couldn’t take place without the generous support of Colorscape’s partners.
“Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival is free of charge through the generosity of our many partners,” says Colorscape Chairperson Lucy Funke. “Their extensive sponsorship of the arts contributes to the quality of the cultural life in our rural area. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to our many sponsors as they help further arts education, foster civic pride, expand tourism and stimulate economic development.”
“Economic development” is not something one might relate to an arts festival. But indeed, many local businesses enjoy a noticeable boost in business during the Colorscape weekend.
“We always have an increase in customer traffic during the Colorscape weekend,” says Bill Tyrrell, owner of Smith Ford, LLC, whose generous support allows for the popular Colorscape T-shirts. “Colorscape is great for the community.”
Funke says there are well over 50 business partners whose financial support makes Colorscape possible. She wishes she could mention each of them individually, but encourages attendees at this year’s Colorscape to look for them in the program book and on tent and stage banners where their names are proudly listed and displayed.
Many of the partners have been associated with Colorscape for years, while others, such as New York Central Mutual Insurance and Morrisville College, are new. “Through their enthusiastic support of Colorscape they have demonstrated their willingness to give back to our community,” Funke says.
Of course, soliciting financial support for each year’s Colorscape is something that begins very early in the year (as early as February). This task generally falls to Colorscape’s Executive Director Lisa Iannello.
“The local businesses have always been very supportive of Colorscape,” says Iannello. “NBT Bank, P&G Pharmaceuticals, Golden Artist Colors, Price Chopper, and of course, the local media, The Evening Sun and Pennysaver, ID and now WSKG, have been very helpful,” she says.
It’s true, many local businesses and institutions, such as the City of Norwich, Bagnall Electric, Yellowbook, Pro-Tel and the Label Gallery have supported Colorscape for many years. But much support also comes from local and national foundations. The responsibility of applying for these grants also falls to the executive director.