PURPOSE OF THE ARTS CHALLENGE: 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 the Cultural Council of Cortland County 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 2019 Arts Challenge is “Balance.” 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 balance. 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).

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, and sculpture 

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

Artisan Crafts - including fabric art, jewelry, ceramics, sculpture, 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 – includes drama, poetry, and short stories

ENTRY FEE: The entry fee is $15 for each submission. Checks are payable to the Center for the Arts. Current members of either the Center for the Arts or the Cultural Council of Cortland County are entitled to a reduced entry fee of $10 per submission. For information about becoming a member of these organizations, please visit or

ENTRY FORM: Please complete an entry form for each submission. These forms are available at or by calling 749-4900. You may also link to an online entry form from the Entry Form page. When you print the entry form from this website, please deselect the "Print backgrounds" option from the print dialog to obtain a clean copy of the form. Mail the completed entry form, CD, DVD, or hardcopy of written work, along with the entry fee, to the address on the entry form. Written work should also be emailed as a Microsoft Word or Pages document to Artwork can be sent as a jpeg to  CDs and DVDs will not be returned. All entries must be delivered or postmarked by November 1, 2019.

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 balance. The judges and the public will read these description tags, so it is an opportunity for the artists to add some extra informaiton about each work. Descriptions exceeding 50 words will be edited at the discretion of the Arts Challenge Committee. 

SUBMISSIONS: All submissions will be juried only from digital media, so quality is essential. 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 - BALANCE in the subject line. 

JPEG Assistance Offered: If you need assistance creating a JPEG file of your artwork, David Beale of the Picture House in Cortland has offered to help.  Just call David during business hours at (607) 753-7786 and arrange to bring your artwork to his frame shop at 85 Homer Avenue in Cortland. David will photograph your art and turn it into a JPEG file that can be sent to any computer. He can even submit the JPEG for you.

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 Cultural Council of Cortland County. There will be an opening reception, with refreshments and award presentations, on January 24, 2020. 

SALES:  The Center for the Arts and the Cultural Council of Cortland County 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.



Specifications for the competition must be followed:

•    Please submit artworks that were created between 2017 and 2019.

•   Artwork should be submitted on a JPEG file with the title of your artwork as the file name. It can be submitted on a CD or emailed to with “Arts Challenge - Balance” as the subject heading.

•   Artwork that is accepted into the exhibit must be framed and wired for hanging. Please make sure that the wires will not extend above the picture's frame when it is hung. It is recommended that you 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 between 2017 and 2019.

•   A performance of the choreographed work must be submitted as a YouTube video for the judges. A link to the video should be sent to with "Arts Challenge - Balance" 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  24, 2020 or you must submit an .mp4 file of your dance 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 between 2017 and 2019.

•   A performance of the musical composition must be submitted as an .mp3 digital file. The file should be sent to with "Arts Challenge - Balance" 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 24, 2020 or you must submit a .mp4 file 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 between 2017 and 2019.

•   All written entries must be submitted both digitally (in Microsoft Word or in Pages format) and in a hard-copy format. Please do not number the pages. Your work must be formatted to print on 81/2 ”x 11” letter-sized paper.

•   Readings or dramatizations of the written work may be submitted on a CD, DVD, or as a .mp3 digital file.

•   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 2019, works will be juried, from the digital submissions, for entry into the January 2020 exhibition. Artists whose works are accepted into the exhibition will be notified to deliver their original artworks to the Center for the Arts between the middle of December 2019 and the beginning of January 2020. 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 24, 2020 celebration. Works in the choreography, music, and writing categories will be judged from their digital entries. After all accepted visual artworks are hung or displayed in January, they will be juried again for awards and prizes which 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 balance theme literally or abstractly. There are multiple meanings/usages of the word balance, and artists are encouraged to explore these different meanings/usages in their works. The Center for the Arts and the Cultural Council of Cortland County, 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 “balance” 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

LIABILITY: 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.


November 1, 2019– All digital submissions must be delivered, emailed, or postmarked by this date.

November 30, 2019 – By this date, artists will receive confirmation of the status of their submissions.

December 16, 2019 through January 7, 2019 – Original artworks that are selected for the exhibition must be delivered to the Center for the Arts in Homer.

January 24, 2020 – The Grand Opening of the Community Arts Challenge Exhibition will take place in the evening. 

January 13 through February 23,  2020 – Exhibits of all the accepted artworks and written works will be open to the public.

March 2020 - Prize winning visual-art entries will be exhibited at the Cortland Free Library.

More details will follow.