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'Arts Access' program celebrates first successful year; launches season two

by jmaloni


Fri, Oct 24th 2014 05:35 pm

Program provides free and low cost cultural opportunities

Arts Services Initiative of Western New York announced the successful conclusion of year one of its "Arts Access" program, which began in September 2013, and announced the program will continue for its second season.

This initiative makes arts and cultural programming more accessible to residents of Erie and Niagara counties by providing free tickets to arts and cultural events to Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program recipients and their families, and a centralized hub for free and low-cost events that are available to everyone at www.arts-access.org.

"ASI envisions a community where arts and culture are not only recognized for their impact on Western New York's quality of life, economy, tourism, education and our region's renewal, but are open and accessible for all residents to enjoy," ASI Executive Director Tod A. Kniazuk said. "We are very proud of the initial year's success and look forward to increasing our outreach and offerings as we expand the program in the future."

During its first year of programming, "Arts Access" enrolled more than 400 eligible residents of Erie and Niagara counties, approximately half of which were families. Organizations such as the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, The Buffalo History Museum and MusicalFare Theatre made up the more than 30 arts and cultural organizations offering more than 100 shows and events to residents during the 2013-14 program year.

Many residents said the program allowed them to see shows and events they would not have been able to attend otherwise. One program member, a volunteer at six theaters for more than 30 years, said, "Now that I am old, somewhat disabled, and especially because I am on a fixed income, I appreciate the 'Arts Access' program more than you know."

Plans to expand the program include targeted outreach to families, improved transportation options, and an expansion of arts and cultural offerings.

ASI developed "Arts Access" in collaboration with Mobile Safety Net Team, the Theatre Alliance of Buffalo and Arts Partners for Learning. "Arts Access: is made possible with support from the New York State Council on the Arts, Empire State Development, The John R. Oishei Foundation, M&T Bank Charitable Foundation, and Fund for the Arts, with in-kind support from Crowley Webb & Associates.

"We want to remind 'Arts Access' passholders that they need to renew their pass for season two, encourage all SNAP recipients to sign up for the pass, and encourage everyone to go to the website for great free and low-cost cultural opportunities open to all," said "Arts Access" coordinator Elizabeth Borngraber.

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