The SUNBURST AWARD (formerly the Artist Career Development Grant)





The SUNBURST AWARDS includes a special annual award in memory of Meredith Johnston, to be given to a talented ceramic artist OR an artist exhibiting great community spirit.  This memorial award is made possible by the Westport Heritage House.

Our 2023 recipient of this award is Sue Anne Walton of Au Sable Forks.  Sue Anne will use her award to host free workshops in Book sculpting.


 ECAC's SUNBURST AWARD is a microgrant designed to support artists of all disciplines and all ages with a specific project or opportunity that will provide a significant impact and expansion to their art career. Artists must either reside in Essex County or be able to demonstrate close ties to Essex County.  

Applicants are invited to submit proposals for projects or opportunities that will advance their art career, defined as:

  • An opportunity to which you have been invited that will boost your career in a specific way;
  • Participation in an event/conference/program/workshop that will help bring your career to a new level, that is, step up in an art career, rather than a lateral move;
  • The completion of an on-going project where the final result will be used to have a significant impact on your career.      

Application process details:

  • Applications must be submitted via email or USPS by Sunday, October 1, 2023.
  • Projects or opportunities must take place before December 31, 2024.
  • Artists of all disciplines and media can apply for grants up to $500.
  • Preference may be given to artists with close ties to Essex County.
  • Proposals will be reviewed by a panel comprised of artists, cultural administrators, and/or community members.
  • Due to limited funds, not all requests will receive awards. Awards may be less than the requested amount.
  • Applicants will be notified of the results by November 1, 2023.

Primary Evaluation Criteria:

  •  An important part of the application is providing very specific details about the impact the specific opportunity will have on your artistic career;
  •  The merit of the opportunity and its feasibility as it relates to your career trajectory will be considered.

Examples of activities and expenses the ECAC SUNBURST AWARD can fund:

  • Documentation of work
  • Rental of materials or equipment
  • Travel or accommodation costs
  • Hiring of technical support
  • Promotional expenses
  • Exhibition, registration, tuition, workshop or mentorship fees

The ECAC SUNBURST AWARD does not fund:

  • College/University (degree-based) tuition

Artist’s responsibilities if awarded a grant:

  • Sign a funding agreement detailing the use and requirements of an ECAC SUNBURST AWARD;
  • Upon announcement of the grant award, showing proof of residency;
  • Provide a W-9 form to ECAC;
  • Credit the support of the ECAC SUNBURST AWARD in all publicity and media materials related to the project;
  • Submit a one-page Final Report to ECAC after completion of the project;
  • The Essex County Arts Council reserves the right to describe or reproduce material from any project awarded funding through the SUNBURST AWARD program for publication or public relations purposes.

Submission Instructions:

  • Submit application (please follow format on attached application);
  • Include brief resume (1 or 2 pages only);
  • Supplemental materials: include sample/s of your work with a maximum of four texts, images, or recordings; or a link to your work on website. Do not send materials unrelated to the specific opportunity or project. Sample materials will not be returned;
  • Specify names and qualifications of consultants or professionals if referenced in your application;
  • Submit via USPS Mail or e-mail the application and supporting materials. Applications must be postmarked or e-mailed by October 1, 2023. If E-mailing, your materials should be sent in either a .doc or a .pdf format;  
  • Contact ECAC via E-mail at with any questions or for assistance.

Our 2023 Awardees:

This year’s Sunburst Award recipients applied for funding to support a wide range of artistic genres, including writing, photography, watercolors, bas relief, painting on recycled materials, and book sculpting. Watch for their workshops and exhibits in 2024 throughout Essex County.

Congratulations to all!

Rob Fountain,  Au Sable Forks

Dina Garvey, Lewis

Dan Hausner, Saranac Lake

Lauren McGovern, Wilmington

Paul Olejnik, Jay

Carl Rubino, Wilmington

Lawrence Vanderburgh, Schroon Lake

Sue Anne Walton, Au Sable Forks


Our 2022 Awardees:

Stephen DiCerbo, North Hudson

Heidi Gero, Au Sable Forks

Heather Loase, Lake Placid

Lauren McGovern, Wilmington

Sean Platt, Lake Placid

Matthew Pray, Keeseville

Kathleen Recchia, Saranac Lake

Lawrence Vanderburgh, Schroon Lake


Our 2021 Awardees:

GENE BAKER, Keene Valley 


ALISON WELD, Westport,

Our 2020 Awardees:

  • Michael Gray Banjo Maker

Michael will use his award toward the puchase of a drum sander paving the way for his move beyond the craft of banjpo making to the art of banjo making.

  • Susan Hoffer Painter

Susan plans two (2) solo exhibits in 2021, one in Lake George Arts in Lake George and the second at Adirondack Center for the Arts in Blue Mountain Lake.  Susan's Painted Stories paiintings depict the diversity of ideas and people in the Adirondack Park. An example of Susan's work appears as the header of this page, "Susan - Self; July 2021", photo taken by Barry Lobdell Photography and Fine Art.

  • Marissa Jonke Taxidermist

The ACD award will provide Marissa the opportunity to attend the United Taxidermists of NY Convention where she expects to not only enhance her skills but also compete.

  • Lucas Tardif Fly Rod Maker

Lucas who specializes in the traditional are of making bamboo fly rods, proposes to purchase a Morgan Hand Mill and related accoutrements to provide a much more polished and professional fly rod.

  • Dolly Sfeir Choreographer

Dolly will purpose her award for a self-produced, directed and choreographed film, The Lights Go Out.


Our 2019 Awardees:

  • Esther Rogers Baker Cellist,Composer,Collaboratoreacher

Esther plans to use the ACD Grant funds for a unique recording session of an MRI composition. This recording provides the quality tool for her pursuit of further collaboration, development and multi-media performance.

  • Zachary Clemans Chef, Painter, Sculptor, Ceramicist

Working with natural and cultivated local materials to represent an impression of the "Adirondack landscape", Zachary is preparing for a Gallery Show at the Recovery Lounge in Upper Jay, NY in October of 2020.

  • Dawn Klotzko Specialty Quilter

Dawn plans to advance her quilting techniques using rulers and custom machine quilting at the Vermont Quilt Festival in June of 2020.