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Grants float canal projects

Nearly $44k awarded to fund historical education programs

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission awarded three Capital District organizations with grants on Friday, Jan. 13, to assist with canal-related education, preservation and tourism projects.

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission awarded three Capital District organizations with grants on Friday, Jan. 13, to assist with canal-related education, preservation and tourism projects. Photo by John Purcell.

— A series of grants is aimed at getting people involved in the rich history of the Erie Canal once more.

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission, in partnership with the Erie Canalway Heritage Fund, started the year off by awarding $43,700 in grants to assist seven organizations with canal-related education, preservation and tourism projects.

Three organizations from the Capital District on Friday, Jan. 13, formally received grant checks: the Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium, New York Folklore Society based out of Schenectady and the Albany Institute of History and Art.

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Congressman Paul Tonko talks about the importance of preserving the heritage of the Erie Canal at the Albany Institute of History and Art on Friday, Jan. 13.

Congressman Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, said there is a strong “sense of place” to the Erie Canal and it is important to preserve the history of the state’ original industrial corridor.

“The genius that came about through the development of the canal that gave birth to a necklace of communities called mill towns that became the epicenters of invention and innovation is a powerful thought in and of itself,” Tonko said.

Continuing to do the “storytelling” and connecting the community to the heritage of the region is important, Tonko said, so future generations can continue to learn about the important history.

“These are powerful agents that then become the extension of expression… chapters upon chapters of history and heritage that inspire us,” Tonko said. “It was a passageway that gave birth to great opportunity and enhanced the quality of life for Americans.”

The New York Folklore Society was awarded a $7,000 grant to develop a two-day symposium exploring the Erie Canal’s connection to traditional music in the state. The symposium is planned to include panel discussions, musical performances and there will be a post-symposium interactive website.

“The Erie Canal in history has both been the inspiration for music and song traditions and for the movement of musical traditions along the corridor,” said Ellen McHale, executive director of the New York Folklore Society. “The symposium that we will be launching will look at the role of music and provide a venue to celebrate the music of both yesterday and today.”

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