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Summer music in Cato, murals in downtown Auburn, organ concerts at St. Mary's — all got a lift Tuesday at Auburn Public Theater as $74,000 in state grant money was presented at the third annual Finger Lakes Community Arts Grants luncheon.

Eight Cayuga County arts entities were among the recipients, which also spanned Seneca, Wayne, Yates and Ontario counties.

Community Arts Grants, an organization housed at the theater, selected the artists, educators and nonprofit groups who received the money through the New York State Council on the Arts' decentralization grant program. 

"We know how important this program is to smaller organizations, artists and community organizations. It's one of the most wonderful things that we do here," said APT Executive Director Carey Eidel, who was joined by Auburn Mayor Michael Quill in making opening remarks.

One of the first recipients of the afternoon was the Stewart B. Lang Memorial Library in Cato, represented by Director Libbie Messina. She said its money would support a summer music series in the community park that taps into the library's "Hometown Heroes"-themed reading program.

"One reason I enjoy coming to this is because I enjoy hearing what everybody else is doing," Messina told the audience. "I'm just always so impressed with some of the projects that you come up with."

Morgan Opera House Chair Ellen Wikstrom and Aurora Free Library librarian Sandy Groth next spoke about how their grant will not only fund the cohabiting spaces' Family Art Series, but also ripple out to local restaurants and other businesses.

"It empowers us to be part of the economic engine of our local community," Wikstrom said.

The Cayuga County Arts Council also received a grant to support its CNY Film & Lecture Series. No representative of the organization was on hand, but presenter and Finger Lakes Community Arts Grants coordinator Meg Clary said the series will provide a forum for filmmakers to show their work and discuss it with the public.

Kathy Walker, executive director of Willard Memorial Chapel, said the money granted to its Community Preservation Committee would allow performers in the Tiffany Sunday Concert Series to be paid a flat fee, and not a varying portion of ticket sales. 

Lisa Semenza, of Hazard Library in Poplar Ridge, said the grant money for its Southern Cayuga Arts series will help widen the horizons of southern Cayuga County-area patrons. This summer, it plans to present Latin music, storytelling and more.

"This brings quality performers to an area where you wouldn't normally get to see them," she said.

Seymour Library's Summer Performance Series also got a lift from Community Arts Grants. The children in its summer reading program, which topped 500 last year, will be able to enjoy story times and drop-in crafts. The library's popular StoryWalk in Hoopes Park, which started last year, will also expand in 2015, community services coordinator Barbara Stith said.

Joel Morehouse, music director at St. Mary's Church, said its grant money would bolster a concert series beginning Feb. 8 that shines a light on one of Auburn's lesser-known treasures: the church's 125-year-old Carl Barckhoff organ.

"It's really a treasure, and one of those irreplaceable things that are part of our story here in Auburn," he said.

Along with the Community Arts Grant recipients from the Cayuga County area was one Individual Artist Grant for Jesse Kline, who spoke about her downtown Auburn mural project toward the end of the luncheon. The project has produced seven art installations since 2010 — all through volunteer efforts, Kline said.

This grant, however, will support the the retooling of the mural outside the theater on Exchange Street Plaza. Its tiled composition has proven unsustainable due to weather and other forms of abrasion, Kline said, and so it will be redone as a painted work the last weekend of June.

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