Monday, November 29, 2010

Culture Counts in WNY Protest 10/25/10

This is a short video I shot of the first protest against the arts funding cuts, figured this is a good place to post it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Minutes from first meeting 11/22/10

Minutes from Empower Arts Buffalo Open Space Meeting
(submitted by Megan Callahan)

please send additions/revisions/corrections to

Megan Callahan, Matthew Crane, Josie Divencenzo, Joe Donohue, Jennifer Fitzery, Elizabeth Oddy,  Stan Klimecko, Joy Scime, James Robert Steiner, Bonnie Jean Taylor, Bob Van Valin,

Meeting start 7:45pn, end 10:00pm
Location: Buffalo Yoga

Megan welcome everyone and explained “Open Space,” and the law of two feet principle.

The group formulated several questions to go into:

How to avoid Disunity?
Is there leadership and are they reaching everyone?
How do we get more people involved and what are our goals?
Why does art matter?
How do we go about planning and executing a magical and powerful flashmob?
What are our intentions?

Discussion began as a whole group, but then broke off, in the style of open space, into one group discussing the Flashmob, and the other discussing leadership. After about a half hour, we returned to a joint discussion. The group continued to brainstorm and share about the flashmob and beyond until 10pm. People volunteered to do several tasks/research.

Two main ideas/talking points that kept emerging as a focal point for our efforts:
-To raise awareness to the greater population of Western New York about the richness and diversity of cultural and artistic offerings.
-Through this awareness, encourage the legislature and government to continue to support and nurture arts and culturals in the Greater Western New York area.

It came up several times as well, the importance of not being preachy or over-politicizing the issues at hand, but to enliven hearts, and promote unity and cross-collaboration. We discussed intentionality versus emotionality.

Joy mentioned that with the dissolution of the arts council, how inspiring it was to be around a grassroots group of actual artists talking about how to improve arts awareness in Buffalo.

Flyer/handbill to be put in all art venue playbills that patrons can fill out and drop in baskets upon leaving their venue/event showing their continued support of the arts. To be later distributed to appropriate members of the legislature.

Contact Buffalo publics schools – music/art/drama teachers and involve kids in letter campaign, etc in importance of arts education, programs and beyond.

Matt mentioned reaching out to church groups, as potential members of flash mob events, caroling, and advocacy.

Josie mentioned petitioning local businesses to raise awareness of the trickle down effect of culturals into dollars spent in the buffalo community.

The group felt we should start a blog or wordpress with url empowerartsbuffalo to reach beyond the facebook population.

We need a personal credo to keep our efforts focused and united, clarify to others our intentions, as well as a mission statement/vision.

The festival/event involving a huge cross-medium collaboration was mentioned, and suggested for the spring.

Flashmob locations still include the mall, sabers game between periods bus station.

Caroling in smaller groups door to door to bring people joy and raise awareness of the arts scene here, with potential flyering or petition at the end was brought up.

“support local arts: it does a body good” front of shirt… “empower arts buffalo” on the back.

Bob has a connection to Christine Baranski.  It came up that using a celebrity would help bring exposure to the vibrant and rich arts community here in Buffalo.

Megan and Elizabeth are going to look into contacting sports figures in buffalo as potential art supporters/mouthpieces.

Those with contacts through press outlets were asked to reach out to them about our efforts.

Elizabeth will send out mission statement formula and those at the meeting and others are encouraged to submit their versions to

Bob will make an event for the flashmob and send out. people can rsvp there and also email if interested.

Bonnie Jean is following up with her friend Scott who is in the Buffalo Philharmonic orchestra about their random act of culture and potential involvement with our flashmob.

Tenative flashmob dates are dec 11 and 18 at noon at the galleria mall, or one location one week, a different one the next. Bonnie Jean has suggested “welcome Christmas” from the grinch stole Christmas, with very simple movement- at the end participants hold up signs that say “empower arts buffalo” and then vanish, in proper flash mob style.

Collaborative project


Angered over the proposed budget cuts? Feeling helpless and wondering what you can do?


Let's put our heads and hearts together to protest the cuts!
Seeking artists from all disciplines to collaborate on a massive, multi-media installment celebrating our great community!
Actors, Directors, Writers, Designers, Dancers, Choreographers, Painters, Photographers, Sculptors, Videographers, Media Artists, Musicians, and everyone in-between!

Looking for:
Artists and concerned citizens of ALL types to participate in a one to three day arts event, date TBA. Event will include an installation with visual arts from all mediums, spoken word/essays/poetry/live music and a rotating performance schedule of 5-15 minute pieces: dance, theater, music, film, multi-media and collaborations that all speak to the following questions/ideas:

1) Envision Buffalo without its arts scene...
2) What is Buffalo because of its arts scene?
3) In your wildest imaginings, what could be the future of Buffalo and its artistic culture/community?

If you are interested in serving on the steering committee for this project, or have a proposal, or even a zygote of an idea for a piece, please email or leave a message here.

Please note that there are many levels of involvement possible here as well all dream together. We dream of a massive, empowering, celebratory artistic event that will create opportunities for further collaboration, dialogue and maybe even policy making.

We look forward to hearing from you!