The Gardiner family has had a profound influence on the history of Long Island, Suffolk County and especially Islip Town. The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation was founded in 2004, when Gardiner passed away at 93 years old.
Pursuant to Gardiner’s wishes, more than $100 million has been set aside to be allocated for the education, cultivation, encouragement and sponsorship of history, tradition and historical maintenance. To date, the nonprofit has doled out more than $20 million in grants to nonprofit institutions and organizations that promote any or all of the four criteria.
In terms of educational and cultivation ventures, these efforts are particular to New York, and better yet, Islip Town. The efforts put forth by Islip Arts Council adequately meet those requirements, especially considering the group’s emphasis on culture in the proximity.
“This award is viewed as a model for future collaborations between Long Island’s art organizations and our historic stewards. Programs such as this one offered by the Islip Arts Council will bring new audiences to historic settings, leading to greater community outreach and engagement. Inclusion of the arts can repurpose a historic setting and bring it new life,” said Kathryn M. Curran, the foundation’s executive director.
The foundation awarded a $25,000 grant to the council, particularly aiding a public program to help bring art and music to historic homes and sacred houses of worship in the Town of Islip. Islip Arts Council and its associated Islip Arts Museum are located at Brookwood Hall in East Islip, a structure with historic qualities in its own right.
Lynda Moran, executive director of the Islip Arts Council, said she is “excited about this grant since it enables the Islip Arts Council to not only showcase the historic home, but also introduce the public to art and music in a new venue – never used for this purpose. It is an innovative way to enhance interest in each of the sites. [It is] a terrific opportunity for all.”
Moran disseminated a press release acknowledging receipt of the grant on Dec. 5 that described the opportunities Islip Arts Council has gained with the grant’s assistance.
“The art exhibitions will be in the form of an Open Call – a customary open call is available to all participants to enter, regardless of expertise. Each open call will be curated by a team of curators who are also members of the Art Advisory Board of the Islip Arts Council Board of Directors. This grant will be used in part to award a stipend to the curatorial team members, as well as to pay musicians for their performances during a concert. Additionally, this grant will enable the Islip Arts Council to purchase needed exhibition materials to be used in the various venues where art exhibitions are not the norm,” the press release reads.
The Honorable Peter Fox Cohalan, a former state Supreme Court Justice, not only serves as a trustee for the foundation but also founded the Islip Arts Council in 1974. He expressed that this organization and its historical and cultural efforts are a hand-in-glove fit for a grant of this kind.
“We want to save Long Island history,” Cohalan said. “We want to educate those people who acknowledge Long Island history. Lynda Moran is doing a great job in that regard in her own sphere of influence in Islip Town.”
Cohalan has had significant influence on the shape of Long Island. He has served terms as Islip Town supervisor and Suffolk County executive in his career. He is also the Suffolk County historian.
“Many people do not know their history, and it is upsetting,” he said, adding that he gives speeches in both Suffolk and Nassau counties regularly on Long Island history.
He mentioned a recent time giving a lecture to a group of students, and only one of 20 could accurately identify President Dwight D. Eisenhower upon seeing a photograph of him.
“That is so frustrating, and that is why we support Lynda Moran and all her activities,” Cohalan said. “There is so much history here that must be preserved because of the fact that we have a repository of magnificent, local color. That is why we give awards to entities such as [Islip Arts Council.]”
The Gardiner Foundation explained that each of the foundation’s five trustees had a connection with Gardiner.
“Mr. Gardiner was a wonderful, generous man. He wanted his money to be given away since he had no heirs,” Cohalan said. “The history of the Gardiner family is linked with the history of the United States and greatly with the history of Long Island. Gardiner perfectly exemplifies his family history. He was a wonderful man who I knew quite well and enjoyed the company of.” n