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PURPOSE: The Community Arts Challenge is a juried competition to encourage creativity within the Cortland County community and enhance the profile of the Center for the Arts and Cortland Arts Connect as venues for local artists and performers. The Challenge is an opportunity to use one’s artistic talents to communicate a common theme. The artistic theme for the 2023 Arts Challenge is “CENTER” The exhibits and performances that result from this competition will be open to the public to celebrate the many ways our area artists interpret the topic of CENTER. Prizes will be awarded in each of six major entry categories. There will also be a “People's Choice” visual-art award for the artwork that gets the most votes from visitors to the Arts Challenge exhibit.

ELIGIBILITY: This competition is open to professional and amateur artists 16-years and older who reside or work in or around Cortland County. Two or more artists may work on the same submission. Each artist is allowed a maximum of ONE submission per major category. All entries must be original works created solely by the artist(s). 

Artists are encouraged to submit recently created works that are inspired by this year’s theme.

Works that have previously been featured in a Center for the Arts or a Cortland Arts Connect exhibit will not be accepted.

CATEGORIES: Original artistic works may be submitted in the following categories. Visual artists should choose the category in which they would like their work to be judged. You may submit ONE entry for each of the major categories.

Fine Arts – including painting, drawing, sculpture, etc

Photography – computer enhanced photography can be entered in either this category or the fine arts category

Artisan Crafts - including fabric art, jewelry, ceramics, etc.

Choreography – dance choreography may be performed by an individual or a group of dancers

Musical Composition – includes original instrumental compositions and original songs with lyrics

Writing – Drama

Writing - Poetry

Writing - Prose/Short Stories

ENTRY FEE: The entry fee is $15 for each submission. ($10 for members of C4Arts or CAC)

ENTRY FORM: Please complete an entry form for EACH submission.  Digitally submit, or print and mail the completed entry form, payment and a digital copy of your work.  Please see ADDITIONAL SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS below for the category or categories in which you are entering works. All entries must be delivered or postmarked by November 1, 2023.

All submissions must be accompanied by the description tag found on the entry form: Using 50 words or less, please describe how the artwork represents the theme of CENTER The judges and the public will read these description tags, so it is an opportunity for the artists to add some extra information about each work. Descriptions exceeding 50 words will be edited at the discretion of the Arts Challenge Committee. 

SUBMISSIONS: All music, choreography, and writing submissions will be judged only from digital media, so quality is essential. Please photograph your artwork so that it arrives as something you would be proud to showcase online. Please refer to your specific entry category in this Prospectus to learn the requirements for digital submissions in your category.  All emailed files should include ARTS CHALLENGE - CENTER in the subject line. 

We will be hosting a workshop to help people with their digital submissions, and submitting to online shows in general. Oct 18th, 7pm at the Center for the Arts

PROMOTION & ADVERTISING: One or more submitted images may be selected for the exhibition’s promotional materials. The show will be advertised and promoted by the Center for the Arts and the Cortland Arts Connect. There will be an opening reception, with refreshments and award presentations, on Friday January 26th, 2024.

SALES: The Center for the Arts and the Cortland Arts Connect do not charge a commission for works sold from the Community Arts Challenge exhibit. All sales inquiries will be referred to the artist. Contact information provided by the artist will be given to interested patrons.  Please indicate on the entry form whether or not your work is for sale. You must include your contact information if your piece is for sale.

Additional Submission Requirements

Fine Arts, Photography, Artisan Crafts

Specifications for the competition must be followed:
•    Please submit recently created artworks.
•   Artwork should be submitted on a JPEG file with the title of your artwork or your name as the file name. It can be emailed to with “Entry - CENTER” as the subject heading. We are encouraging visual artists to submit high-quality JPEGs of their work, as we will putting our art entries online. 
•   Artwork that is accepted into the exhibit must be framed and wired for hanging. Please make sure that the wires will not extend more than one inch below the top of your picture's frame when it is hung. It is recommended that you tightly mount the wire inside the picture's frame about 1/3 the distance from the top of the picture.
•   Artwork cannot exceed 48 inches in width.
•   If the artwork requires special hanging hardware, stands, or display directions, they must be included.
•   Three-dimensional work must be moveable by one person or placed by the artist.
•   Pieces must be stable and must not present a danger to viewers.
•   Artists including their own pedestal for display of work should note their intention on the entry form.
•  You may submit ONE work in each of the visual-art categories (Fine Art, Photography, Artisan Crafts)


Specifications for the competition must be followed:
•   Please submit one choreographed work that was created recently.
•   A performance of the choreographed work must be submitted as a public accessible YouTube video for the judges. A link to the video should be sent to with "Entry - CENTER" as the subject heading.
•   The choreographed work may be choreographed and/or performed by more than one dancer.
•   You must be able to present a live performance of your work at our Grand Opening on January 2024 or you must submit a YouTube link of your dance that can be shown instead. The dimensions of the stage are approximately 20 feet long x 20 feet wide.
•   Performances may not exceed 5 minutes in length.


Specifications for the competition must be followed:
•   Please submit one musical selection that was created recently.
•   A performance of the musical composition must be submitted as an .mp3 digital file or a link to performance. The file should be sent to with "Entry - CENTER" as the subject heading.  
•   A musical score of your work (optional) may be sent digitally to the email address above, but please delete your name before submitting the score. 
•   The work may be written and/or performed by more than one musician.
•   Your must be able to present a live performance of your work at our Grand Opening on January, 2024 or you must submit a YouTube video to accompany your work that can be shown at the Opening. The video portion of your submission can be of musicians playing your work or it can be a video or slide show that is meant to complement your musical selection.                                                
•   Musical compositions may not exceed 5 minutes in length.


Specifications for the competition must be followed:
•   Please submit one written work that was created recently.
•   All written entries should be submitted digitally (in Microsoft Word or in Pages format) to with "Entry - CENTER
" as the subject heading.  . Please do not number the pages and do not send your work as a pdf. Your work must be formatted to print on 8 1/2 ”x 11” letter-sized paper. Your work may be reformatted for publication in a booklet of Arts Challenge writing submission.
•   Readings or dramatizations of the written work may be submitted as a YouTube video.
•   If your submission is chosen to be read or performed, a live performance of the work must be adaptable to the stage of the Center of the Arts. The dimensions of the stage are approximately 20 feet long by 20 feet wide.
•   Poetry and prose works may not exceed 1,000 words in length. The reading of or performance of a work may not exceed 5 minutes in length.

Judging Criteria

All submitted works will be juried in two stages. In November 2023, works will be juried, from the digital submissions, for entry into the January 2024 exhibition. Artists whose works are accepted into the exhibition will be notified to deliver their original artworks to the Center for the Arts during the first week of January 2024. Choreographers, composers and poets and playwrights will be asked to perform their works on the stage at the Center for the Arts during our January 26th, 2024 celebration.  Works in the choreography, music, and writing categories will be judged from their original digital entries. After all accepted visual artworks are hung or displayed in January, they will be juried again for awards and prizes. Winners in all categories will be announced at the Grand Opening celebration. 
Artists should be aware that the exhibition and performances are open to the general public and artwork must be viewable for all ages. Pieces will be judged on artistic quality and execution as well as thematic relevance. Artists should feel free to interpret the change theme literally or abstractly. There are multiple meanings/usages of the word Center, and artists are encouraged to explore these different meanings/usages in their works. The Center for the Arts and the Cortland Arts Connect, with juror guidance, reserve the right to accept or reject any piece for show inclusion.

Scoring Rubric

(Out of a total of 100 points)   
Relevance to the theme: The theme of “CENTER" is creatively developed and depicted:  50 points
Effectiveness / Overall impact: Evidence of thorough planning, preparation, and artistic skill:  25 points
Originality: Uniqueness in the way the theme is expressed and presented:   25 points


The Center for the Arts shall be responsible for the safekeeping of all loaned artworks while they are in its custody.  The Center for the Arts shall be strictly liable to the Artist for their loss or damage (except for damage resulting from flaws inherent in the Artworks) to the full amount the Artist lists on the entry form. The Artist agrees to provide objective evidence to support the listed inventory value of the loaned work to the Center or its insurer in the event of an indemnified event.

Important Dates

October 18, 2023 - "Enter Here" A Workshop in online entry, Center for the Arts of Homer

November 1, 2023– All digital submissions must be delivered, emailed, or postmarked by this date.
November 30, 2023– By this date, artists will receive confirmation of the status of their submissions.
First Week in January 2024 – Original artworks that are selected for the exhibition must be delivered to the Center for the Arts in Homer (Specific dates and times will be in the acceptance letters)
January 26,  2024 – The Grand Opening of the Community Arts Challenge Exhibition will take place in the evening. 
Mid Jan through February 23, 2024 – Exhibit of all the accepted artworks and written works will be open to the public.
March 2024 - Prize winning visual-art entries will be exhibited at the Cortland Free Library.


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