CONNECT EMPOWER CREATE
Artpark Bridges is a year-round community engagement program dedicated to providing the larger WNY population with empowerment, integration, healing and creative expression tools through drama, art therapy and interactive initiatives.
All people want to feel valued and valuable. Artpark Bridges connects Western New York citizens of diverse abilities and backgrounds. It empowers them with the confidence to showcase their talents, gain a sense of inclusion and purpose. It creates valuable experiences for us all to be proud of.
Step 1: Connect
Artpark leadership establishes meaningful dialogue with community service organizations throughout Erie and Niagara Counties and designs custom-made programs for each according to specific priorities and needs of each partner and their constituents.
In 2018, Artpark established programs with People Inc., Empower, Buffalo Department of Education / Adult Education Division ESL program, which now continue into 2019.
step 2: empower
Artpark’s own teaching artists conduct weekly on-site visits with community organizations at their facilities with custom-designed programs, which include visual arts, music, theater games, movement and other forms of interactive engagement. These types of engagement activities stimulate development of social skills, confidence building, mental health, a general sense of well-being and acceptance.
Empower will engage in self- love, while developing meaningful interpersonal connections with the community through performance, internship opportunities, and their own art garden.
People Inc. will hone their visual arts and performance skills in a natural and holistic setting while gaining confidence and making social connections.
Buffalo Public Schools- Adult Division will use theater and the the arts to practice ESL skills, work towards resume development and form connections to their new community. It is a way to help them feel at home.
step 3: create
During Artpark’s summer season, each group will gain a sense of belonging and active purpose through carefully curated weekly visits to Artpark. These visits may include attending events, volunteering, building a garden, painting a mural, taking a walk among nature and public art; attending a special workshop at Artpark Percussion Garden, or participation in a major public event.
The joining of all participants on stage to present to a large audience is a substantial and inseparable part of the program. It is a natural culmination of the process with a unique empowering opportunity: where every participant has a voice; where every participant is a peer; and where together their effort and triumph are celebrated by a massive cheering audience.
June 22: Strawberry Moon Festival
Artpark’s new Strawberry Moon Festival on June 22nd, 2019, featuring bands A Tribe Called Red, Sam Roberts Band and Alan Doyle will be preceded by indigenous arts, music and food festival.
The Artpark Bridges participants will perform on the Amphitheater stage together with all headlining bands, the Iroquois community, Artpark youth, volunteers and local musicians, all led by an internationally renowned percussionist and community organizer, Cyro Baptista.
July: Sound Dance
Sound Dance seeks to facilitate expressivity, while creating an environment of wellness, self-care and respect. Through creative dance and sound-making, participants benefit physically, creatively, socially and emotionally while exploring personal expression and mutual collaboration.
Led by Cynthia Pagado, an experienced teaching artist and movement expert, Sound Dance is built on a foundation of accessible movement strategies. Classes are suitable for all ages, and movement abilities, including people with Parkinson's disease and mobility challenges, people using wheelchairs, ambulatory people and anyone who would like to explore interpretive dance movement and rhythm.
From an array of large sweeping gestures to small, precise movements, each person will find movement appropriate to their body's abilities as we move together to create dance and sound in the Artpark Percussion Garden.
Sound Dance summer workshops: July 1, 13, 27
In 2018, its inagural year, the Artpark Bridges program culimnated in a special musical theatre production, a modern stage adaptation of "The Odyssey."
Odyssey Photo by Richard Termine
The Odyssey was a professional theater production which integrated amateur participants in a groundbreaking collaboration.
Actual Broadway stars, Terence Archie and Courtney Balan, traveled from New York City to work with the best of Western New York professional and amateur talent. Months of workshops, rehearsals and artistic collaboration came to a triumphant presentation at Artpark's Mainstage Theater on August 4 and 5, 2018 under the direction of Roger Danforth. Over 200 participants including theatre professionals, elementary to college students, seniors, amateur performers, local volunteers and community organizations were applauded on the stage by an audience of over 2,000. Supporters graciously donated food, rehearsal space and made monetary contributions.
2019 teaching artists
Cynthia Cadwell Pegado weaves her passion for immersive performance into the creative process of site-specific work for people of all abilities.
Ms. Pegado is a NYS Council on the Arts Community Arts awardee (2017, 2018, 2019), for “Art Moves Me”, her interpretive dance program based on visual art, designed for the Burchfield Penney Art Center, which draws people with neurological movement disorder into artistic, expressive dance within the galleries. Her teaching encourages multi-sensory perception and response, and igniting cognitive and physical challenge in incremental layers that allow personal successes. She has choreographed performance works for students in Parkinson's specific classes as well as public programs which include Global WaterDances (a worldwide network of choreographer's advocating for water quality).
NYS Council on the Arts awarded her the Individual Artist award for her program “Sound Dance” at Artpark (2019), which invites people of all movement abilities into guided and improvisational dance, while using movement to create a communal soundscape with gongs, percussion instruments and our voices. Her work is recognized as a “cultural asset to the Buffalo community” as a Give for Greatness awardee since 2015.
Griffin James Brady, has a Master of Arts degree from Goddard College with a focus in Ethnomusicology and Music Pedagogy. His masters thesis and adjoining musical method books were inspired by his work as a touring musician and educator with groups such as the SAAKUMU Dance Troupe of Ghana, West Africa. Upon founding the Slyboots School of Music, Art & Dance in Buffalo, NY in 2006, Griffin has been teaching and performing in over 800 Universities, Colleges, High Schools, Elementary Schools and clubs across the United States, promoting the Slyboots mission- “positive social change through cultural arts education and performance. Bringing the world together, on the sly.”
In addition to his touring efforts, Griffin also works as a teaching artist in WNY schools, has been a featured speaker at various panel discussions and events including the Ted X Buffalo conference and he also organizes and implements a study abroad program that has brought WNY students to Africa nearly every summer since 2010. Griffin is also widely known for the community events that he produces including weekly drum and dance classes and the annual multi-day music, art and dance festival– SLYFEST– as well as his audio production work in association with Ripe Audio at Nights Of Fire, Bidwell Park, Larkin Square and Buffalo Ironworks.
Connor Caso is a Lewiston, NY native who grew up at Artpark. As a visual artist with a performance art background, he has received professional training in mime, puppetry and theater. Currently, Connor holds a BFA in musical and theater arts from Niagara University. He His performances include She Love’s Me, Lady Windemere’s Fan and Chigaco. Over the past two years, he has lectured on the art of puppetry and given workshops on mask making. His artwork has been featured in exhibitions at the NACC and Artpark.