Board of Directors


History of Innovation Group of CNY Arts, LLC

IGCNYA is a non-profit Limited Liability Company that was founded in 2018 by CNY Arts, Inc., the    regional arts council for Central New York.

The CNY region was seeing the birth of a film industry and in an effort to support the artists and organizations involved, an agreement was made to administer a state-funded grant that would create an incentive for film makers to come to Central New York.  Innovation Group was founded to ensure that CNY Arts would be able to continue to advocate for the arts in Central New York and maintain their re-granting programs without becoming inundated with the growing film industry.

  • Executive Director

    Stephen Butler is a native of Onondaga County. He received his BA in Theatre from Oswego State University and relocated to New York City. During his years in NYC Stephen worked as the Director of Membership/Programs for the Alliance of Resident Theaters/New York, the Alliance of New York State Arts Councils and at several producing organizations including Manhattan Theatre Club, the Hudson Guild Theater, and Creative Alternatives of New York, a drama-therapy organization serving the greater metropolitan region. He was also an AEA stage manager. Stephen is a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship recipient in Strategic Planning. He returned to Syracuse and obtained a Masters of Arts in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.  He also serves as the Executive Director of CNY Arts, Inc.


  • Director of Programs

    Elizabeth Lane is a native of Madison County and a graduate of Purchase College with a B.A. in Arts Management. Elizabeth first became familiar with CNY Arts (then the Cultural Resources Council) as a performer for seven years in The Adventures of Rudolph. Liz has served as the Decentralization and Grants Manager for CNY Arts since 2013. Prior to working at CNY Arts, Elizabeth gained experience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City Ballet, and the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, and locally at Syracuse City Ballet and the former Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.


  • Program Officer

    Charlie is a native of Asheville, N.C., and a former Communications Strategy and Operations Chief with the U.S. Marine Corps where he served for over fifteen years.  His primary training comes from the Defense Information School located in Maryland, and he attended the Military Visual Journalism program at Syracuse University‚Äôs Newhouse School of Public Communication.  After managing a Visual Information hub in Japan he returned to Central New York to settle down in the Syracuse/DeWitt area with his wife and two children.


  • Production Auditors

    Potential or current applicants may not contact the auditors directly.  Any attempt to do so will result in immediate disqualification.

  • Panelists

    NOTE:  Potential or current applicants are not allowed to contact panelists directly.  Any attempt to do so will result in immediate disqualification.

  • President:  Carol Dumka
  • Vice President:  Fritz Messere
  • Secretary:  Daniel Hammer
  • Treasurer:  Phylisa Clark-Sova

Frequently Asked Questions:    As applicants inquire about the film fund or the film competition, this section will be populated.  In the spirit of fairness to all applicants, all questions will be publicized with information pertaining to individual identity (or project confidentiality) redacted.

  • Q:  Can I obtain funding if my project does not meet the budget requirements?

    A: While all applicants are welcome to apply, the CNY Film Fund aims to help grow the film industry in Central New York.  For that reason we are first selecting applicants that can show a positive financial injection into the Central New York economy through local expenditures and hiring local labor.   In the event that the Film Fund does not exhaust all of its resources on larger projects, we may consider applications for low-budget productions or independent films but they would still need to meet strict requirements pertaining to their financial backing.

  • Q:  What if my production is based somewhere else but I want to shoot a scene in Central New York?

    A:  While any production that meets the requirements is welcome to apply, we would likely opt to fund other projects that will be in Central New York for the majority of their production in order to best ensure the local labor workforce is actively employed.  Depending on production budget and expected local expenditures, some exceptions may apply.

  • Q:  What resources are available in Central New York?

    A: Central New York is a thriving community with a diverse economic foundation.  Heavily supported by academic institutions and medical facilities, the region is also home to cutting-edge industry leaders in drone technology.  Likewise, Syracuse is home to the Greater Syracuse Soundstage, a 52,000 square-foot Qualified Production Facility located within easy driving distance to Syracuse or the surrounding region.   Likewise, Central New York is home to over ten colleges and universities that have film or film-related programs, with several being degree-producing, making the area home to an eager and growing workforce of inspired film professionals.  For more information on the local film industry please contact the Vice President of Film, TV & Entertainment at evinal@visitsyracuse.com

  • Q:  What if my production has a private investor?

    A:  You may still apply to the program, but you would need to submit evidence in the form of a funding agreement or contract that also has a completion stipulation included.

  • Q:  For Non-Theatrical, what if my production gets picked up for distribution?

    A:  The intent of your distribution (for the Non-Theatrical program) must be an alternative-release plan.  If, however, your production is picked up at a later time for theatrical release that is fine.

  • Q:  Will Innovation Group hold funding to be used later in the year?

    A:  No, unfortunately the funds are available on a first come, first serve basis.  Since you have 90 days to begin principal photography from the date of signing the funding agreement (must be done within 30 days of offer), this grants you approximately four months for preproduction upon notification of approval from Innovation Group.  As stated in the guidelines, those productions that can show an ability to start their production on time will receive a priority for funding.


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Innovaton Group of CNY Arts, LLC
421 Montgomery St, 11th Floor
Syracuse, NY 13202

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