By Jo-Ann Polise, event organizer for the Stuyvesant Cove Park Association
After more than a dozen years the Stuyvesant Cove Park Association will not be sponsoring the free concert series at Stuyvesant Cove Park this summer. The cancellation, first announced in an e-mail sent out to Friends of Stuyvesant Cove Park on April 4, prompted many to respond with expressions of sadness and disappointment over the decision as well as praise and appreciation for seasons past.
The series cancellation was not due to funds being cut; Councilmember Keith Powers, like his predecessor, had made discretionary funds available to the organization for the program. However, the process of applying for the funds and the additional work required to receive payment of the funds has, over the years, become much too complicated and time consuming for an all-volunteer organization.
Additionally, the SCPA had been notified that its arrangement with Solar 1 was changing. In addition to paying a fee to Solar 1 for each event held at the Park, the SCPA would also have to purchase their own insurance to cover future events. This additional expense would undoubtedly result in a reduction in the number of concerts.
Unlike some organizations that have dedicated, paid staff to handle grant applications, the SCPA consists of members of the community who donate their time for the love of the Park.
Ironically, due to restrictions in the city funding process, being an all-volunteer organization has worked against the SCPA. The city guidelines specify that no more than 30 percent of the awarded funds can be used to pay outside contractors.
As an all-volunteer organization, 100 percent of our grant funds are spent presenting the concert series and all the musicians are considered outside contractors. So, every year we held our breath hoping that we would get a waiver. Over the last several years the SCPA has been able to receive the full amount of their award but it is anticipated that will not always be the case and, should that happen, the amount the SCPA receives would no longer cover the cost of the series. Over the years, the SCPA has presented the John Colianni Quintet, The Rutkowski Family, Sean Mahony and the NY Swing Orchestra, the NYPD Band and many others. Musicians regularly contacted the organization asking to be considered.
Marty Barrett, president of the Stuyvesant Cove Park Association, acknowledged that the decision by the board was not an easy one.
“The concerts have been a wonderful program of the SCPA and very well received by the community. We hope to be able to resume the series in the future.”