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Noah Falck introduces Just Buffalo Literary Center's new Writing Center

Today marked the opening of Just Buffalo Literary Center's new Writing Center, an airy, open room above the Western New York Book Arts Center that will host workshops and serve as a drop-in center for local students looking to develop their writing skills. JBLC Education Director Noah Falck kicked off the festivities, which included a series of poetry readings from students and professionals, and lots of smiles all around.

Look for more coverage of the space my column on Sunday, and check out the series of workshops it offers here.

And just for fun, here's an original poem read by Janna Willoughby-Lohr -- who was standing on an actual Just Buffalo Literary Center-sanctioned soapbox at the time -- during this afternon's event:

 

--Colin Dabkowski

City of Night puts out a call for site-specific work

City of Night, the grassroots multi-arts festival which will take over Silo City on June 28, is seeking proposals for "performance art, installations, sound art, murals, dance, theater, and light-based works."

Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo, the group behind the popular festival, released a teaser video in hopes of inspiring Western New York creative types to apply. Check out the City of Night website if you're interested in applying. Here's a look:

 

And a handy walkthrough of the site for artists interested in exactly what they're applying to:

 --Colin Dabkowski

Give for Greatness becomes part of ASI

Give for Greatness, the arts fundraising organization launched by Artvoice publisher Jamie Moses in the wake of Erie County's 2011 cultural funding crisis, will become part of the Arts Services Initiative.

The merger of the two organizations, funded by a consortium of local foundations known as the Fund for the Arts, will create a new development director position at ASI. It will primarily benefit small cultural organizations and expand G4G's mission to include a larger swath of Western New York.

As the funding crisis of 2011 recedes into memory, ASI board president and MusicalFare Theatre founder Randall Kramer said, "the need for G4G remains as prevalent as ever for small and new organizations, as well as groups in Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties where public sector [support] for the arts is not as strongas it is in Erie."

It's tough to overestimate the importance of a group dedicated to funding new and emerging cultural groups Western New York and Erie County, as the vast majority of public and private funding goes to long-established organizations. Gaining a toe-hold as a new group is remarkably difficult -- a problem this reimagined version of G4G aims to solve.

Since its founding, according to the G4G website, the organization has raised $150,000 for local arts organizations. It was headed for a time by former Studio Arena Theatre director Kathleen Gaffney, who left the organization several months ago.

--Colin Dabkowski

Arts Services Initiative launches cultural awards

The Arts Services Initiative of Western New York, a cross-cultural advocacy organization headed by Tod A. Kniazuk, announced today that it is lanching an annual series of cultural awards.

The new awards program is similar to the yearly honors the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County handed out until its demise in 2010. ASI is accepting nominations on its website for lifetime achievement, organization of the year, artist of the year, rising star, cultural supporter of the year, cultural advocate of the year, volunteer of the year and DEC program of the year. The ceremony will be on June 25 in the Hotel @ Lafayette.

Read ASI's release on the new awards program here.

--Colin Dabkowski

Infringement Fest issues call for work

The 2014 Buffalo Infringment Festival, scheduled for July 24 to Aug. 3, is now accepting applications from local artists, musicians, filmmakers, poets and performers of all stripes. Some info from the release:

Infringement welcomes all musicians, visual artists, dancers, poets, actors, filmmakers, performance artists and street performers to be involved. There are no fees to enter and every application is accepted. Once you have started an application, you can go back to it at any time and add or change information. Registering early keeps you in touch with the monthly events and fundraisers and links you with an organizer in your genre of art. It also helps organizers plan ahead with volume, as the festival grows larger every year. To celebrate our 10th year we encourage everyone applying to step outside with their creative ideas and transform the streets of Buffalo into the ultimate free venue!

To submit your proposal, click here.

--Colin Dabkowski

Babeville to host forum on art, culture and 'placemaking' tonight

Jason Schupback, director of design for the National Endowment for the Arts, will lead a forum on the role of art and culture in the development of urban spaces tonight at 7 in Babeville's Asbury Hall

As projects such as Larkinville and Canalside spring up in American cities recovering from decades of economic stagnation, developers, architects and politicians are thinking much more about the role of culture in creating new urban landscapes and economies. The term for that trend is "placemaking," a highly lampoonable piece of jargon The Atlantic Cities included on its list of "Urbanist Buzzwords to Rethink in 2014."

Whatever you may think of the word itself, the trend is well worth exploring. Tonight's forum is sure to touch on many important issues central to the development of Buffalo in the next few years. Anyone interested in the rapid development of the city should check it out.

The forum is sponsored by Partners for a Livable Western New York, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and presented by Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center. As seating is limited, those interested in attending should RSVP by calling Hallwalls at 854-1694.

--Colin Dabkowski

BPO Recap: Musing on 'Mozart and Salieri'

Salieri

By Mary Kunz Goldman

A concertgoer was nice enough to read my review of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's concert this past weekend, which featured Rimsky-Korsakov's opera "Mozart and Salieri." He writes, in part:

...You took no shots at an obviously lame piece. While I'm a big fan of Ms. Falletta, I am often mystified at her penchant for taking obscure pieces and presenting them to us (or maybe subjecting us to them.) There's a reason these pieces are obscure. I know musicians and directors get tired of playing the same Bachs and Beethovens over and over, and yes some of her selections can be interesting, but for every decent new piece she delivers to us there is something like that awful stinker Gliere piece, or this Rimsky-Korsakov....  Paraphrasing "The orchestra performed it wonderfully" - maybe so- but the piece itself was a piece of crap, especially that Gliere. Again, there is a reason these pieces are obscure.

I like this guy's passion for music and his civil discourse -- I mean, he didn't call me an idiot or anything because I wrote positively about a piece he did not like. I did, honestly, enjoy "Mozart and Salieri." I was looking forward to it and it did not disappoint me.

As I wrote back to our correspondent...

Continue reading "BPO Recap: Musing on 'Mozart and Salieri'" ยป

Erie County adopts a culture-friendly 2014 budget

On Tuesday, the Erie County Legislature passed County Executive Mark Poloncarz's 2014 budget along party lines, as Harold McNeil reported. Just as a refresher, here's a look at what the budget contains for Erie County arts organizations:

  • A 1.5 percent increase in operating funding support for 63 arts organizations, bringing total 2014 cultural funding (not including libraries) to $5.64 million
  • Funding for previously unfunded groups including Arts Services Initiative, Buffalo Niagara Choirs Inc., Central Terminal Restoration Corp., Lower Lakes Marine Historical Society, Preservation Buffalo Niagara and the Orchard Park Symphony Orchestra.

Take a look at the full list below or download a PDF copy here.

--Colin Dabkowski

'Buffalo: America's Best Designed City'

Buffalonians gathered earlier this evening in Larkinville to watch the premiere screening of John Paget's short promotional video "Buffalo: America's Best Designed City." Take a look:

--Colin Dabkowski

'Writer's Almanac' to feature locally published poem

BlazeVOX Books publisher Geoffrey Gatza announced today that Garrison Keillor will read a poem that was published by the local company on Wednesday's version of the popular program "The Writer's Almanac." The poem, Burt Kimmelman's "Old Age Home," is reprinted with permission below. Listen to Keillor read the poem here.

The ride from Manhattan โ€” slipping her
into the passenger seat, swinging
in her legs, shutting the door โ€” to the
suburbs of New Jersey, its trees and
freshly-painted houses, was as neat
as her empty apartment. We placed
some photos on her table, hung up
a few paintings on the walls, arranged
some of her sculptures here and there, plugged
in lamps and the television set.

We made our way along the hallway
to a room full of sun, where people
were gathered to talk a little, though
she had nothing to say. There was a
stereo playing music, and once
in a while someone sang the lyrics,
which had returned from some dim region โ€”
a man seated in an easy chair
had wanted, years ago, "a girl just
like the girl who married dear old Dad."

We went to dinner. Someone poured her
a glass of juice. She ate, spilling food,
with a sudden hunger. Afterward
we sat on some couches. Someone asked
her to dance. The music played. She danced
with slight, tentative steps, a tulip
too heavy for its stem. When we had
to go we kissed goodnight, and left her
to lie down in her soft bed, her head
on her pillow, to slip into sleep.

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