About Young Audiences

The Buffalo News
Sarah K. McIlhatten/Special to the News

Young Audiences of Western New York’s mission is to inspire, expand learning, and strengthen our community through engagement with the arts.

Our Values:
1. Art as Asset
There is inherent worth in art as an indispensable, immeasurable factor in education, outreach, and opportunity.

2. Art as Empowerment
Art has the power to amplify voices, expose truths, and inspire change.

3. Collaboration
We work closely with our partners to build trusting, mutually beneficial relationships in order to maximize our mission’s impact in our community.

4. Diversity
We are fundamentally enriched and strengthened by the inclusion of diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences.

5. Accountability
Through a commitment to financial and operational excellence, we can maintain accountability to those we serve, our partners, our funders, and the community.

We offer assembly, workshop and long term residency programs with professional artists, committed to their craft, and using it as a tool for creative learning. Art forms include music, multi-media arts, theater, dance, and visual and literary arts. We provide services in the eight counties of Western New York, including Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming.

In 1962, the local affiliate of Young Audiences was founded by Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra musician Laurence Trott, and several philanthropically and educationally minded people, including Aline Gunzberg and Helen Yasgur. The parent organization, Young Audiences, Inc., had also been brought to life by a musician and his benefactors; Yehudi Menuhin, the violinist and conductor, had come up with the idea in 1950. With the help of supporters, by the mid-‘50s, there were affiliates in New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston. Today, there are 30 Young Audiences affiliates across the country.

Young Audiences initially focused on bringing classical musicians and performances to schoolchildren in urban districts. In its first year, Young Audiences of Western New York provided 500 programs to over 75,000 children. By 1982, 20 years into its existence, Young Audiences WNY diversified its offerings to include all of the art forms, and offered workshops, residencies and assembly programs.

Today, Young Audiences WNY presents hundreds of individual programs, plus dozens of residencies, wherein teaching artists provide schoolchildren, their educators and families, with multi-disciplinary, multi-session education through the arts. These residencies create meaningful connections between artists and young people that might otherwise not be exposed to the arts—especially arts integrated into school curricula.

The artists on the Young Audiences WNY roster are committed to their art, and using it as a tool for learning. Art forms include many genres of music, multi-media arts, theater, dance, and visual and literary arts. Students may be encouraged to write a story or a rap based on their own experience; to build and fly a kite and experience both science and fun; to write, perform or see a play; to sing, dance, play an instrument; and to delve into the history of our region (i.e., Erie Canal, Underground Railroad) in hands on workshops with artists.

Reaching over 7 million school children every year, the Young Audiences network received the National Medal of Arts in 1994. In 2002, Young Audiences of WNY was the recipient of the National Conference for Community and Justice Brother/Sisterhood Award in the Arts and the Commitment to Education Award from the Buffalo Alliance for Education. Young Audiences designated Young Audiences WNY as Affiliate of the Year for 2003. This year, the Association of Teaching Artists, an international resource to the field, recognized Young Audiences WNY for our service to teaching artists.

While the mission of Young Audiences of Western New York, to bring the arts to all the young people in our area, has not changed, the ways and means have; we see a not-so-subtle shift from simply inspiring young people to see and appreciate art, to also participating and understanding the arts in context of the world in general, and their lives specifically.

For additional information, click here to view our 2012-2013 annual report and here to view the 2012-2013 annual report companion piece, or contact us directly by email at info@yawny.org or by phone at 716.881.0917.

To learn how to get involved click here.