For a second year, Assistant Professor of Education Mary Kelly and the Colleges have been recommended for a $10,000 Challenge America Fast-Track grant by the National Endowment for the Arts to support The Arts Experience: A Festival Celebrating Inclusion and the Arts. This year’s program will be held April 8 – 19.
Only 153 Challenge America awards were made this year, and no other New York state colleges were recommended for the honor. The grants are given in support of projects that provide arts experiences to those who are limited to opportunities – whether that limitation is due to geography, ethnicity, economics or disability.
“This festival really addresses what the Challenge America grants hope to fund – inclusive arts that bring together communities,” says Kelly. “We are now going into our fourth year – and we continue to grow. There really aren’t any other programs like this that incorporate so many communities.”
In addition to working with the Colleges and the Finger Lakes Institute, the Festival for the Arts will again collaborate with local NYSARC organizations and other partners in the Geneva and Finger Lakes communities.
This year, the two-week event will work with the Finger Lakes Institute to create a program focusing on water – its importance and power as well the many challenges currently threatening the world’s water.
Included in the festival’s celebrations will be Global Water Dances choreographed by Associate Professor of Dance Cadence Whittier. Lucy Bowen McCauley, an established choreographer based out of Washington, D.C., will instruct inclusive dance workshops. Bowen McCauley, with her dance troupe, has led many classes for those with Parkinson’s disease. In addition to the workshops, the celebration will include other dances, performances, and possibly Zumba classes.
A number of artists are slated to perform and lead workshops, including Catherine Branch, a renowned flautist from the Eastman School of Music. Branch, who started the organization Music of Difference, has diplegic cerebral palsy and uses music to integrate disability advocacy and the arts. Also joining the festival is Matt Giordano, a renowned percussionist who studied with the lead percussionist of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and directs his own company, Drum Echoes. Matt will perform at the closing gala and hopes to lead an inclusive percussion session.
New arts projects are also in the works, with more than 20 new and exciting proposals for the visual arts. Kelly hopes to have an inclusive documentary group to record the festival on film in an effort to share the experience with other communities.
“This festival just resonates,” muses Kelly. “I love that HWS is such an inclusive space for folks with disabilities, a place to find inclusive experience around the arts. The program keeps blossoming, and people are constantly finding new meaning in what we are doing and in the arts.”
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, they have awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities.