Since 1980 The Skaneateles Festival-world class music by the lake, has brought classical music to the Finger Lakes region. Renowned talent has drawn audiences from the far reaches of the area. Venues have varied, with each providing just the right ambience. Whether in a barn, a library hall, an open field, or a vineyard, audiences have been treated to the uppermost levels of entertainment.
COVID-19 caused quite a void for supporters and participants of this August festival. However, August 2021 was not to be denied. It marked the 30th anniversary of The Festival, entitled “Together Again in 2021” which welcomed an outstanding cast of performers from August 12th through the 28th. Artistic Directors Aaron Wunsch and Julia Bruskin captured the essence of this venue beautifully, “The past year has shown us just how central togetherness is to the musical experience. A concert is so much more than the music itself: it’s a life-affirming experience of art in community. It heals us, brings us joy, and makes us whole.”
The Skaneateles Festival was forced to shutter when the recent pandemic devastated so many cultural venues. On a local level, Jana Hexter and Susan Mark were vigilant for finding programs designed to support entertainment organizations that were negatively affected by the pandemic. They contacted the Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College to inquire about such programs. They were well-versed in what was required of them to ensure the security of this Festival. Their expedience in submitting applications for this funding resulted in the necessary support for the current and the upcoming seasons.
In April 2021 the Small Business Administration began accepting applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG). This grant was designed as an economic aid for live venues, museums, movie theaters and many other similar businesses that were among the first to shut down when the pandemic hit. Having received funds through both the PPP (Payroll Protection Plan) and the SVOG Jana and Susan explain the benefits realized:
“The PPP loan enabled us to keep our small but essential team employed during the darkest days of the pandemic. As a result, we were able to create a new partnership with WCNY and together we offered 9 live events including 4 free evening concerts, 4 SkanFest U education classes, and a KidsFest educational program. The concerts were broadcast on WCNY-TV, simulcast on Classic FM radio and livestreamed. Although WCNY is unable to provide viewership numbers…we conservatively estimate having reached approximately 5% of their total viewing audience.
The SVOG grant allows us to enter the 2022 season with gusto. The 200th anniversary of the birth of Harriet Tubman in 2022 offers an opportunity for the Skaneateles Festival to present Freedom Sounds, a celebration of music that considers the question: what does freedom sound like? Educational and outreach events for children and young people will attract new listeners.”
While Jana and Susan needed little encouragement with the funding programs, SBDC Advisor Nancy Ansteth maintained contact regularly to discuss the SVOG and to ensure no other opportunity was missed. Moreover, interaction with this festival’s promoters and volunteers provided insight into one of the region’s cultural highlights. Informing readers of the educational and support opportunities offered by the festival’s foundation deserve expanded publicity. At SBDC we find it imperative to promote our clients’ community impact well after our initial contact has lapsed.
As an SBDC Advisor I remain invested in my clients’ success. Periodically, I check in with them to learn their plans-both long- and short-term and broadcast them shamelessly. I feel a vested interest. As a member of the community, even more so. I encourage readers to visit www.skanfest.org to learn more about this Finger Lakes treasure both to participate and support. August will be here before we know it!
Read More about them on our Blog: svog-recipients.html
Article published in the 'The Central New York Business Journal' on December 23, 2021
Nancy Ansteth is a Certified Business Advisor at the Small Business Development Center located at Onondaga Community College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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