Cultural Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts in New York State’s Southern Tier
The agency, as part of its day hab/recreation program launched a new arts program in the fall called Avenues of Expression. Although in its infancy, the program has already taken off and we are excited about the many potential avenues of creativity and projects ahead. A committee has been formed made up of staff and community members that are supporters of the arts to assist the program in its direction, community connections and opportunities. You may recall seeing some of the art that came out of the Avenues of Expression classes during the summer months. The agency hosted its first arts exhibit displayed in the front lobby prior to the 2009 annual meeting and at the Celebration Walk at the Holding Point in Horseheads last June.
Although our Rec program has explored a variety of art disciplines throughout the years, including musical performance and crafts, it was during last year’s Street Painting Festival that the seeds began to sprout. While driving to work on an early July morning, Josh Bennett of the Recreation department saw a sign advertising “Street Painting” in downtown Elmira. He stopped, wrote down the number and made a call. Rec was too late to be involved in the festival that was held in July, but contacts were made with Elmira Downtown Development, the of the 2009 Elmira Street Painting festival, recreation staff invited some members of the art class to meet and see what this “street painting” was all about.
It didn’t take long before the group met artists from all over the county including an artist from the Community Arts of Elmira. In no time Chemung ARC had made partnerships with Jennifer Herrick of Elmira Downtown Development and Lynne Rusinko of Community Arts Elmira. By the following week, Josh and Jennifer had met again. Jennifer had seen some of the artwork that had been produced in art class and quickly decided that the former Werdenberg building on the corner of North Main and West Water streets would be an ideal spot to display the art. Since that time many of our artists have had their work on display in the store windows. We were very pleased to be part of this year’s Elmira Downtown Development Christmas Window Display project.
Additionally, the agency featured artwork from June Schlappi on the agency’s holiday cards that were distributed to hundreds of community businesses, organizations and supporters of Chemung ARC. June’s artwork was chosen by the arts committee out of 26 art entries out of the program.
Upcoming projects from Avenues of Expression include a fantastic project funded by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes called “All Walks of Life” that will take place this summer. A large canvas will be touring local community walks whereupon people will be invited to “make their mark” with paints. Avenues of Expression has also received some funding from The ARTS to purchase software and equipment to assist artist members in filmmaking. We will continue to keep you informed of all the exciting activities evolving within Avenues of Expression.