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Arts Services Initiative elects its board

Arts czar 05
Tod A. Kniazuk, the first executive director of the Arts Services Initiative. Photo by Robert Kirkham / The Buffalo News.

The Arts Servcies Initiative, a broadly based organization (with no website!) that hopes to bring the concerns of arts and culture to the forefront of the Buffalo-Niagara region's agenda, has elected its first full board of directors.

The new board, announced on Tuesday by the organization's executive director Tod A. Kniazuk, contains the usual suspects from Western New York's art world as well as serveral members whose presence on the board speaks to its wider regional ambitions.

First, the more or less usual suspects, who hail mostly from Erie County's active cultural world or from institutions with longstanding arts affiliations:

E. Frits Abell, the preservationist and arts advocate who founded the Buffalo Expat Network and the fledgling Echo art fair.

Laurie Dean Torrell, longtime director of Just Buffalo Literary Center.

Paulette Harris, the accomplished artistic director of the Paul Robeson Theatre.

Sarah JM Kolberg, a consultant and adjunct professor in the University at Buffalo's Media Study department who formerly served on the staff of former New York State assemblyman Sam Hoyt.

Kate Koperski, director of the Castellani Art Museum since 2007.

Randall Kramer, co-chair of the Greater Buffalo Cultural Alliance and artistic and executive director of MusicalFare Theatre.

Gerald Mead, local artist, collector, curator and Buffalo State College professor.

Theresa Quinn, attorney with Magavern Magavern Grimm and local pianist and musical director.

JoAnne Schwartz, a vice president of community reinvestment with M&T Bank.

And now for the slightly less expected members of the inaugural ASI board.

James Allen, director of the Amherst Industrial Development Agency.

Mark McGovern, project manager with the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Irene Rykaszewski, director of the Lewiston Council on the Arts.

The inclusion of BNMC and AIDA officials speaks to the desire of the ASI's first director to spread the conversation about arts and culture beyond the echo chamber it sometimes inhabits. The inclusion of a Lewiston cultural figure is also a plus sign, in terms of casting a wider net that reaches beyond Erie County. This reads to me like good news, though in the future it would be good to see the balance tilt a little bit more to extra-cultural circles.

--Colin Dabkowski


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