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Arts Services Initiative of WNY announces 6th annual Spark Awards winners & finalists


Thu, Feb 28th 2019 05:10 pm

Event ‘Celebrating Those Who Ignite Arts & Culture’ set for May 22 at Hotel Henry

Arts Services Initiative of Western New York (ASI) announced details of its sixth annual Spark Awards presented by M&T Bank. The awards party, “Celebrating Those Who Ignite Arts & Culture,” will take place from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, at the Hotel Henry located at the Richardson Olmsted Complex.

WKBW-TV Channel 7’s Ed Drantch will serve as emcee for the evening. The event will feature the awards, live performances and live art creation, open bar, and dinner. Tickets are $100, with sponsorships and program book ads available now at www.asiwny.org. A limited number of free tickets are available through ASI’s “Arts Access” program by calling 716-833-3004, ext. 514.

Following more than 80 nominations from the field, a panel of arts representatives from throughout Western New York selected the winners. They are:

•Arts Integration – Sam Savarino, Savarino Companies LLC

•DEC Program of the Year – Annette Daniels Taylor for “Heritage Walk: Traveling Buffalo’s Underground Railroad Seminar and Workshop” project

The DEC Grant Program is a funding opportunity facilitated by ASI for individual artists and arts organizations in Erie and Niagara counties. The funds are provided by the New York State Council on the Arts and administered by ASI. The staff at ASI selected the winner of the DEC Program of the Year based on the scope and quality of the work in this given year.

•Lifetime Achievement – Craig Centre, El Museo (retired)

•Rising Star – Aimee Levesque, Inclusive Theater of WNY

•Supporter of the Cultural Sector – John McKendry

•Trailblazer of the Arts – Rob Lynch

•Unsung Hero – Clyde Terry, Shea’s Performing Arts Center volunteer

The panel also selected finalists in the following categories, with the winners to be announced at the event:

Artist of the Year Finalists:

  • Julia Bottoms
  • Caitlin Cass
  • Muhammad Zaman

Arts Organization of the Year Finalists:

  • National Comedy Center
  • Road Less Traveled Productions
  • Sugar City

“2018 proved to be a powerful year for arts and culture, based on the number of nominations we received in each category and the caliber of artistic movements in the region,” ASI Executive Director Jen Swan said. “From neighborhoods and communities using the arts to make this a great place to live, to education opportunities, to transformative arts experiences and tourism destinations, the Spark Awards presents and honors all of those achievements in a fun and captivating arts party at the Hotel Henry!”

Proceeds of the Spark Awards benefit ASI’s services and resources to artists and the nonprofit WNY arts community. ASI services include: professional development workshops, funding opportunities, advocacy and promotion. ASI develops the business side of the arts community in Western New York. The Spark Awards also support ASI’s efforts to make arts accessible in the community through public programming such as the “Arts Access” program.

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