Local artists and organizations seeking state 2011 Decentralization Grant funding in Otsego County should see little difference with the Upper Catskill Community Council of the Arts no longer handling the program, two people involved with the situation said.

The Chenango County Council of the Arts announced last week that it would be administering $25,000 in funding for Otsego County provided by the New York State Council on the Arts. The group also serves Broome and Chenango counties, and the funding is available to all non-profit organizations, including municipalities and artists sponsored by a non-profit organization in the three counties, according to a media release from CCCA.

Changes in staffing at UCCCA caused the change in administration, an official there said. A spokesman at NYSCA was not able to provide information on the change Friday.

CCCA coordinator Michelle Connelly was not available for comment Friday, a staff member said.

Anyone who has submitted an application to UCCCA will need to re-apply to CCCA under the current Broome, Chenango and Otsego guidelines by 5 p.m. Jan. 21, 2011, according to a media release. Otsego applicants must call 336-2787(ARTS) to arrange a pre-applicant eligibility review, according to the release.

Applicant seminars for Otsego funding will take place at 1 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Edmeston Free Library, and 4 p.m. that same day at the Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta. There will also be seminars at 1 p.m. Dec. 8, at the Cooperstown Art Association and at 4 p.m. at the Worcester Free Library. Applicants are asked to call the office to register. A minimum of five are required at a session.

The New York State Council on the Arts issued a statement in August saying it was holding up its 2011 contracts with UCCCA pending resolution of the organization's fiscal and managerial issues, including its lack of key staff.

In July, UCCCA's interim executive director resigned for personal reasons, and its program coordinator was cut in an effort to downsize because of the current economy, officials said,

It relies mostly on volunteers to deliver its services, Linda MacKenzie-Ranc, UCCCA board president and chief executive officer, said.

Because of the staffing changes, the agency no longer fits the criteria to administer the grant, so she was not surprised by the decision. She was glad that the grant deadline was extended from October during the transition, she said.

By working with the Chenango organization, "we'll make the transition for artists an easy one," she said.

The agency has received about 11 grant applications so far, submitted before a decision was made, MacKenzie-Ranc said.

Either UCCCA will be contacting people about returning the paperwork, or they are welcome to call the office, she said.

There are a lot of things that UCCCA still wants to achieve, including continuing exhibits at its headquarters, but more volunteers from the community are needed before it can schedule winter and spring events, she said.

Programs -- including art classes at the Wilber Mansion and sending artists to area after-school programs -- are continuing, she said.

Cooperstown Art Association Director Janet Erway said she was delighted that the decentralization program will continue.

While it will involves "new friends," she said, "I don't think it will be too much of a change."

While she would prefer that it stayed within the county, given the current situation at UCCCA, she said she was "grateful" that CCCA was picked because its employees are experienced administrators.

For grant guidelines and application form in Word format, send an e-mail to info@chenangoarts.org. Notification of intent to apply is required.

Assistance in preparation of grant applications is available from CCCA. Nominations for grant review panelists are accepted on an on-going basis. Call 336-2787(ARTS) for more information.

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