Categories: Latest News.

Board Member of the Year: Dan Hart

Congratulations! Dan Hart is the executive director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and he is also serving on the board of directors for Young Audiences WNY. His exemplary service earned him the title “Board Member of the Year” from his fellow board members.  We interviewed him to uncover more about what makes him stand out… Read more »

Categories: Latest News.

Professional Development with People, Inc.

Young Audiences provided a daylong robust professional development program for People Inc., Western New York’s leading non-profit human service agency. Through a variety of services—including residential, employment, community outreach, health care and recreation programs—People Inc. helps families, seniors and people with disabilities to live more healthy, independent and productive lives.  

After the experience, Mary Petrakos, People Inc.’s program director, said, “These workshops were just awesome! If Young Audiences had crawled inside my head to see exactly what I wanted them to do…this surpassed what I’d imagined!”

The daylong program included the following:

Annette Daniels Taylor, poet, author and performing artist, will presented her popular workshop “Say What You Mean—Make a Zine!” In this hands-on workshop, participants creating created a mini-magazine. As they considered the questions of content, design and historical examples, participants engaged their imagination on many levels.

Nels Ross offered “Juggling & Life Skills ‘Play’shop,” an alternative to “work”shops. Physical activity in this “play”shop developed life skills like coordination, confidence, and self-discipline. Ross used a variety of objects to demonstrate juggling techniques. Participants tried their hand at balancing peacock feathers, and juggling scarves. “Play”shops are accessible to many learning styles; they may also help improve skills used in reading, writing, math, and science, like tracking, motor, and sequencing.

In her “Hands on Arts” presentation, art therapist Kristen Crosson employed a variety of creative projects to encourage self-expression and build self-esteem. With these workshops Crosson engaged with participants to address topics including elements of art, free expression, self-awareness, socialization, group cooperation, sensory awareness, motor skills and positive self-esteem.

Musician and storyteller Rodney Appleby offered “Perspectives: On Your Feet Writing,” a program which used dramatic role play, secret coding, spirituals and folk music to conveys communication methods between 19th century collaborators (enslaved Africans, abolitionists, bounty hunters, and plantation masters) within the Underground Railroad movement. The content emphasized the power of music as a tool, in particular during the Underground Railroad era. 

At the end of the workshop, Appleby encouraged participants to debate hot-seat questions such as “What is freedom?” and “Who is free?” which This workshop addresses many issues, including both practical empathy and the process of preserving culture., participants compose their own “call and response” style work song, discovering along the way that these early songs were the origin of the blues.

Popular teaching artist and dancer Sarah Haykel offered “Salsa for Life: Character Education & Development.” An infectious enthusiasm is one of her tools; through her own experience, she made connections and correlations with life skills. Dance, aside from its rhythm and physicality, teaches self-awareness, confidence, leadership and cooperation.

Stuart Fuchs, an experienced teaching artists and acclaimed musician, offered an interactive workshop and ukulele show, during in which he demonstrated the versatile instrument and talked about its history. Participants joined in to learn ukulele fingering positions. They sang along to Portuguese sea shanties, and discoverd how the little instrument is used in folk, pop, rock and jazz music. They get to strengthened listening, observation and concentration skills.

After the day-long experience, People Inc. staffer, Sophia McClintock.  “I really enjoyed learning to salsa with Sarah Haykel. The zine workshop was just great for me, too; I can use that [type of activity] with our clients in all kinds of fun creative ways!”

Her colleague, People Inc. art specialist Kaitlin Frisicaro said, “I attended Young Audiences’ Arts Abilities conference, which was really inspired me as an artist. The workshops, especially those with Kris Crosson, really reenergized me; I can’t wait to bring what I learned back to the classroom!” 

Categories: Latest News.

Poetry & Song at Budget Hearing

On November 20, 2012, Buffalo News reporter, Denise Jewell Gee wrote:
“Music and poetry filled the County Legislature chambers Monday as speakers urged lawmakers not to scale back funding for arts and cultural groups, libraries and youth programs next year.”

The music and poetry that filled the chamber that evening came from the collaborative efforts of Young Audience WNY lead artists and staff members: Melissa Kate and Annette Daniels Taylor.

The county legislature heard many speakers from cultural organizations across the county asking the committee to continue funding cultural programs the community was also there to ask for their support of Youth Services and the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. The Young Audience WNY offices are located inside the Central BECPL location along with Literacy NY and Project Flight. We also provide programming with the support of funds from Erie County Youth Services.

Melissa first energized the chamber with the song “Sing-Sing!” by Serena Ryder and the duo requested lawmakers keep the $5.5 million that County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz proposed for local arts and cultural groups in the 2013-spending plan. To close Annette read a poem written by a teen that participated in her Young Audiences, Stories Through the Microphone poetry residency at the Erie County Youth Detention Center:

I was a very smart kid back then
I remember when I jumped the first time I heard my aunt shutting up drugs in the next room
I worried when my brother got shot
I thought this was the life
Being locked up and being in gang stuff
But I want to change my ways
I am a very good kid when I can be
I think that the world could be a better place
I need to get back in school
I try to be a nice guy
I feel like throwing
I forgive my mom for calling the cops on e
Now I can change my life


Link to original article
Photo by Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News

Categories: Latest News.

Slam Poetry After School at Riverside High

Annette Daniels TaylorThere is still room for Buffalo Public School students grades 8-12 to participate in the heARTS Slam Poetry program with poet and performer Annette Daniels Taylor.  The program runs on Thursdays at Rivesrside in the beautiful auditorium from November 1 through February 3. This program is offered with the generous support of the Buffalo Schools Foundation.  More information may be found on the BPS school website here.  Students will not only learn to write exciting poems, but how to perform them in order to impress their audience.  Students and parents may also get further information by contacting the BPS Art Education Department at 816-3601 or emailing Michele Agosto, Director of Art Education at

Categories: Latest News.

Ferdinand at Central Library

We are thrilled to kick off our 50th anniversary year celebrations with a free theatrical puppet show for families at the Central Library. Our teaching and performing artist Michele Costa, and her puppet theatre, theaterFigüren will perform the beloved story of “Ferdinand” for all-age audience.

This performance, on the day following Buffalo’s Curtain Up! 2012, the official opening of Buffalo’s theater season, takes place Saturday, September 15 at 1 pm at the Central Library Auditorium, 1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo.

theatreFigüren’s beloved puppet production of “Ferdinand,” by Munro Leaf, has been adapted by Michele Costa—she also built and made the stage, set and puppets. The performance features an original musical score by Paul Christopher Kozlowski. “Ferdinand” is the potent story of a little bull who would rather sit and smell the flowers than fight. 

Costa founded theatreFigüren in 1991. Her puppet theatre synthesizes many art forms—including literature, dance, music, painting and sculpture—into one fantastic theatrical experience that is sophisticated, with appeal across the age spectrum.

“It’s really nice that this production can be made public,” says Costa. “This performance of ‘Ferdinand’ is seen in schools, but probably many people wouldn’t see it or know that it’s available, and that it appeals to a wide range of age groups. Curtain Up is traditionally adult, so it’s good that Young Audiences is offering a little extension of it. It’s great to be able to let families know that we’re here, were doing this—and we’re at the library.”

The performance is presented in partnership with the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. Young Audiences of Western New York’s 50th Anniversary events are generously sponsored by major supporters The Buffalo News, Buffalo Spree, Hooper Family Foundation, Hyatt’s All Things Creative, M&T Bank, and WNED.

Performances of “Ferdinand” are available for schools; YA-WNY and theatreFigüren are pleased to offer discounted prices for the 2012-13 school year to Buffalo Public Schools.


Categories: Latest News.

A new strategic plan

Our new strategic plan has been adopted. The plan includes long-term objectives for our innovative organization all the way through 2016. As our role continues to be shaped by the demands of changing times, the plan, with its clearly stated goals, will be our guide.


After two years of study, planning and hard work, we are thrilled to have this strategy in place and begin the work of fulfilling it. Thank you to those who participated. It is truly gratifying to be able to continue our mission with a strong outline. 


The goals are specifically for Young Audiences of Western New York to:


  • Design, develop and deliver quality, integrated arts-learning experiences that produce significant outcomes for young people
  • Develop new revenue streams and strengthen existing sources of support
  • Provide for capacity-building of staff, board, artists, educators and Arts Partners for Learning (APL) structure to support the organization’s vision
  • Mobilize a broad community of supporters, through the APL initiative framework, for school- and community-based arts programs and experiences, raising awareness about the benefits of arts education

Categories: Latest News.

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town Grants

Olmsted McKinley MuralWe were so pleased to learn our ambitious proposal with Buffalo State College and its Community Academic Center, Buffalo Public Schools, and the City of Buffalo was successful.  The $75,000 grant will allow us to make a major commitment to Buffalo’s West Side Community.  We look forward to working with the students at Lafayette High School, International School #45 and in after school programs.  Over the course of the year, Young Audiences teaching artists and Buffalo State College faculty and students will work with students and their families to gather the stories of West Sides “global village” during this project we have titled, “Celebrating the Immigrant Experience Yesterday and Today.”  These stories will then be brought together in a massive mural executed under the direction of artist Augustina Droze.

Categories: Latest News.

Programming at the Canal

Young Audiences is kicking off several new programs and it appears as if we are picking up even more speed. The Canalside Program which hosts teaching artists most Saturdays and Sundays at the Erie Canal Harbor park gains a larger crowd with each weekend’s passing.

This previous weekend audience members were treated to a salsa-dancing workshop to get them up and moving and a musical performance that promotes a positive self image. They learned how architecture is used as a tool for building understanding the world and they explored the old tales of the Erie Canal.

The family friendly performances bring together our teaching artists and the audience members in addition to valuable ideals and messages in a fun and interactive manner. These hour long programs teach students how to interact with others. It shows them how to take on a different role. It moves them to get up and shake their bodies. Learning doesn’t feel like learning when you are having a good time, and time seems to fly by when you’re having fun. So, head out at 10am on Saturdays and 12pm on Sundays so you don’t miss out on any of the excitement!

Check out the upcoming performances in July:

Saturday July 21

Soul Portraits Workshop & Performance with Gayle Danley at 11am

Sunday July 22

Erie Canal Traveling Museum with Annette Daniels Taylor at noon

Songs of Slavery with Rodney Appleby at 1pm


For more information on our scheduled programming in the latter months check out our website at



Categories: Latest News.

Teens Are Curators of Culture

What is a curator? A textbook definition would be something along the lines of an individual who dictates what pieces become a part of a collection 

meant for display. In the case of the teens participating in the Curators of Culture: Buffalo Style! summer program, it seems that a curator is an individual who takes an active role in their future. By discovering the varying aspects of art, architecture, culture and more, students discover why and how the city of Buffalo became the historical treasure that it is today. 

It sounded pretty similar to school when the idea was first explained, but the actuality of the program simply made me jealous that I couldn’t be a participating student. These teens are given the opportunity to see locally owned businesses, organizations and arts projects first hand and to intertwine their experiences with the different perspectives of others.  This is the teen summer program being piloted by Young Audiences WNY with support from Erie County Primetime this year.

The launch to the program included group activities to build ties of trust amongst the students. Throughout the following weeks the teens have been blogging about their experiences, explored their creative intuitions and formulated novel trains of observation. 

The program focuses on a theme each week, with topics such as marketing promotion, architecture, theatre and dance. Our partners, which include Buffalo First, Western New York Book Arts, and Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, are helping to coordinate activities, meet and greets, and creative prospects for the teens involved.

Every week provides a new outlet with the ability to appeal to each child’s unique talents. This also allows for synergy. Building off of one another is a great way to easily suck up knowledge and skill and when interacting with one’s age-mates the maturity barrier is greatly lessened.

These teens understand one another and after the icebreakers, they discovered shared experiences and circumstances. These curators are therefore a team working together to build collective vision for their future. 

Through connection and technical application theses students are learning in a way that applies the IDEA model, as discussed in the previous blog, to their education. Look out for next summer’s program because it only gets better from here! – Ini Inyang – Cornell ILR Intern, Summer 2012 at Young Audiences WNY

To learn more about Young Audiences, visit our website at

Don’t forget about our partners!