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Cultivating Culture in the Crystal City
“World renowned for its glass making, the Corning Museum of Glass allows you to discover the art, history, and science of glass. Historic Market Street is a true delight, flourishing with glass making studios, antiques, restaurants, and specialty shops. Corning has a large population of fine arts, from local glass artists to famous works featured in the Rockwell Museum, as well as notable entertainment performed by local theater, ballet, and music groups.”—Corning Area Chamber of Commerce website.
In 1868, Corning Glass Works, under the leadership of Amory Houghton Jr., moved to Corning, New York, spurring an era of growth in the region that ultimately led to the city’s charter and the nickname “Crystal City.” In the city’s early days, Amory Houghton Jr. served on the board of education, an example of the company’s commitment to the local community that remains steadfast today.
Throughout the years, by partnering with the arts, Corning Incorporated has helped transform the greater Corning community into a world-class arts destination where creative people want to live and work. The company’s investments in arts and culture are a major reason why, in 2013, Rand McNally's list of best small towns in America named Corning the "Most Fun" town out of all the list's finalists. The Corning Chamber of Commerce’s “Relocating to Corning, NY” page touts the area’s cultural events and public art, many of which exist because of Corning Incorporated’s support. Americans for the Arts honored Corning Incorporated for its arts support with the BCA Hall of Fame award in 1995 and the BCA 10 Award in 2015.
“We support art and culture institutions as part of our effort to make our communities better places to live and work,” said Wendell P. Weeks, Chief Executive Officer at Corning Incorporated. “We believe it enhances the quality of life for our employees and neighbors, increases the vitality of the communities, and often strengthens economic health. As a company dedicated to life-changing innovation, we also know that creativity is a synergistic process. We all benefit from organizations that stimulate our senses, inspire our minds, and encourage our curiosity.”
In 1951, the company celebrated its centennial by founding The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning. Corning Incorporated’s continuous investment in The Corning Museum of Glass has allowed the museum to grow to become the world’s largest collection of glass, attracting more than 420,000 visitors annually. A recent $64 million contribution from Corning Incorporated led to a new Contemporary Art + Design Wing for the museum, which opened in March 2015. Supporting the museum provides Corning Incorporated with exceptional opportunities to promote past, present, and future achievements with glass and reward its employees with complimentary museum memberships.
Corning Incorporated Foundation, which was chartered in 1952, provides targeted support for innovative initiatives that advance and sustain arts programs. Since the Foundation’s establishment, $154 million in grants have been distributed. In 2013, the corporation gave $33.9 million to arts programs, 70 percent of the company’s total giving for the year. Corning Incorporated’s regional contributions also include multimillion dollar support for The Rockwell Museum of Art, new public green spaces, the conversion of an old movie theater into a new performing arts center, and more. The company was also instrumental in helping to create a Regional Cultural Development Plan aimed at enhancing the quality of artistic and cultural life in the area.
In a 2013 interview with former Corning Chairman and CEO, James Houghton, he is quoted as saying, “My hope is that Corning keeps on with what they're doing in innovation, and the things they're doing to make it a broader company – a worldwide company – but I hope they always keep their headquarters there in that small town. That's very important.” Houghton was named Americans for the Arts’ 2008 BCA Leadership Award winner for his dedication to the arts.
Photos: Hot Glass Show at the Corning Museum of Glass; The Rockwell Museum of Art in Corning, New York; The new Contemporary Art + Design Wing at the Corning Museum of Glass. Photos courtesy of Corning Incorporated.