By Chris Michaud
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Forty New York City cultural institutions and historic sites will compete for millions of dollars in grants for preservation efforts in a new grassroots campaign announced on Thursday.
Members of the public can vote online for the projects that are most important to them, ranging from a historic homestead in the New York borough of Staten Island to world-famous landmarks like the Guggenheim Museum and the Apollo Theater.
The four winning sites will receive grants and an advisory committee of community leaders working with the project's organizer, Partners in Preservation, will allocate the rest of the $3 million fund to the remaining nominees.
"The 40 selected sites reflect the awe-inspiring range of landmarks that makes New York the city it is today," said Kenneth Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express, which is collaborating on the program with the National Historic Trust for Historic Preservation.
Voting will continue through May 21. All of the sites in the city's five boroughs will hold open houses on May 5 and 6 and feature behind the scenes tours and re-enactments, arts and crafts, musical performances and art installations.
Historic places seeking grants include parklands such as Brooklyn's seaside Gateway National Recreation Area and the popular High Line, which is built on an unused elevated train track.
Cultural and arts nominees include the Helen Hayes Theater, the Museum of the City of New York and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
"Everyday citizens' preservation efforts are critical to saving places that are important to us all, retaining the character of communities and expanding economic vitality," said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation about the effort's grassroots nature.
People can cast their votes on www.Facebook.com/ and www.PartnersinPreservation.com.
Partners in Preservation has awarded more than $6 million in grants since 2006 for preservation projects in New Orleans, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Seattle and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
(Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Patricia Reaney)