SARANAC LAKE - BluSeed Studios board members have something to celebrate.
For the first time, BluSeed received an organizational capacity building grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. The studio and gallery space relies on grants, donations and fundraising to stay open.
BluSeed Artistic Director Carol Vossler said the $4,500 grant will help fund the part-time office coordinator position held by Michelle Hannon, who started in November 2012.
Vossler said BluSeed has received grants before, but she explained that this one is particularly rewarding because competition for NYSCA grants is fierce.
"It's a foot in the door," Vossler said. "We're in their database now and that shows they really like us. We're unique, and it really validates the organization."
To obtain the grant, Vossler and Hannon had to provide the council with in-depth information on how the studio runs and on what its mission is. They also had to prove that BluSeed is a financially sustainable space.
"We wouldn't have gotten this grant three years ago," Vossler said. "They won't give you money unless they think you're going to be around for a little bit."
BluSeed opened in 2001 in a renovated railroad warehouse building that was built in the 1930s. The artist's performance, exhibition, work and learning space didn't have a working board until 2006, when Vossler realized that growing interest meant she needed help running it.
"We didn't really have any sustainability," Vossler said. "We were just living month to month, or maybe quarter to quarter, as the board grew and got a little better."
Growth also led to the creation of Hannon's office coordinator position. Now, Vossler has someone to help with general maintenance affairs like paying the bills, as well as planning, organizing and promoting events.
"I did some private fundraising to get half a year's salary to get it started, but since then we've made money because of Michelle," Vossler said. "Now the board is even getting more involved. Because it's a volunteer board and because life happens, Michelle and I were pretty much on our own for awhile, and not having the support really made a difference, and it showed fiscally, and that really enlightened some people to step up to the plate."
Hannon said BluSeed has experienced a recent resurgence of interest, which has led to more workshops and events. She added that the grant will do more than help fund her position.
"Once NYSCA awards you a grant, they also offer you assistance, and we're hoping to take advantage of some of that," Hannon said. "There are resources for things like board development, fundraising, webinars, consultations and those sorts of things. We're really excited about having access to those."
Vossler said BluSeed Studios is currently looking for a few more board members. Anyone interested can contact the studio at 518-891-3799.
Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.