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The Ontario County Arts Council is a non-profit organization with a membership of over 200 visual and performing artists and other members of our local communities who appreciate and support culture, art, music, and architecture. Established in 1989 to enhance the creative arts in Ontario County, we sponsor and co-sponsor numerous events, exhibits, and workshops, as well as support the arts with grants and scholarships. These include: 

  • Annual series of four juried exhibits are held from January to December in the North Gallery of the Ontario County Historical Society, and is sponsored in partnership with the Museum. Occasional workshops and lectures at the museum are held in conjunction with these exhibits. 

  • Annual series of juried member exhibits are held in the main lobby of the Fort Hill Performing Arts Center. A series of one and two person shows are planned for 2024.

  • One non-juried member exhibit at the Wood Library, Canandaigua, in April. 

  • A Rotating Art Exhibit program at local offices and businesses that pay an annual $150 participation fee, which goes towards our grants and scholarship funds. Presently there are 19 contributing member artists at 14 locations in Ontario County


  • A $2,000 Mariner Family Scholarship is awarded each fall to a deserving visual or performing arts student at Finger Lakes Community College, and a musical performance is periodically held to help support this scholarship. Andrew K. Schoenfelder, Finger Lakes Community College music major, was the recipient for the 2023-24 academic year.


  • ​An annual Community Grants Program is made available to other non-profit groups in Ontario County in support of the arts. Grants for 2023 were awarded to:

    • ChamberFest Canandaigua: $1,000 toward artist compensation for the organization’s free concert at Cobblestone Arts Center for special-needs children, adults, and their families. The concert was part of ChamberFest Canandaigua’s 2023 season, ˜Symphony in a Teacup.” 

    • Bristol Valley Theater Naples: $1,000 to launch a first-ever fall theatre performance.

    • Main Street Arts Clifton Springs: $1,000 to support publicity for a plein air event in the village that included a public exhibit and free children’s art activity.

    • Geneva Concerts Inc.: $1,000 to subsidize ticket prices for the Fisk Jubilee Singers, who performed African-American spirituals, at Smith Opera house.

  • ​Art grants, workshops and exhibits are made available to the public libraries in Ontario County and several local libraries are active participants in supporting the visual arts.​​


Our Board of Directors

We have an active, working Board of Directors, all volunteers, who works closely with other local organizations in support of the arts, including the Ontario County Historical Society, Fort Hill Performing Arts Center, Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion, Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce and B.I.D., Arts in Canandaigua Galleries, the City of Canandaigua, Cobblestone Arts Center and The Dove Block in Geneva.

Front Row from left: Diane Olivet, Kay Howard (Secretary), Susan Besaw, Judi Cermak (Past President), Jim Kowba (Treasurer), Lenore Friend.

Rear Row from left: Joyce Kowba (President), Bradley Fuster, Harry Patrick, Regina Morse, Neal Allen, Tina Blackwood (Vice President)

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