Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara's Fine Arts Program was recently honored as the "DEC Program of the Year" at the Arts Services Initiative of Western New York annual "Spark" Cultural Awards during a ceremony at the Hotel @ The Lafayette in Buffalo.
The Spark Awards honor "those who ignite arts and culture" in thus area. Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara was selected for excellence in programming that provided opportunities for creative expression to individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities over the past five years. Led by Marcia Ross, a New York state-certified teacher in visual arts, numerous on-site and community-based workshops have explored visual, music and theater arts.
The workshops were funded, in part, by the Niagara County Community Arts DEC grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
The Council on the Arts established the decentralization program (DEC) in 1977 following the mandate of the State Legislature to encourage increased participation at the local level in the state's cultural funding process. The purpose of the DEC program is to foster the continued development of local cultural resources responsive to community cultural needs. DEC support enables emerging artists and organizations to grow professionally and to enhance the cultural climate in communities and neighborhoods where they live and operate.
DEC helps to ensure access to the arts and culture to the citizens in each of the 62 counties of New York, especially to areas that are geographically isolated, economically disadvantaged or ethnically diverse. ASI administers the DEC grant for Erie and Niagara counties.
For 60 years, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, the Niagara County Chapter of NYSARC Inc., has provided habilitation and supportive services to people with developmental disabilities of all ages and their families. For more information, visit www.opportunitiesunlimited.org or www.asiwny.org.
Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara's Fine Arts Coordinator Marcia Ross and program participant William (Buddy) Wall proudly display the "Spark" Cultural Award.