This week, NYSCA grantees demonstrate how art can be a powerful tool for addressing social issues and celebrate icons ranging from Michelangelo to Billie Holiday.
In The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Teens Speak Up By Singing Out
“The Brooklyn Youth Chorus is not your typical kids’ choir, singing folk-song arrangements and show tunes. It’s made up of over 600 kids, from second grade to the end of high school, from struggling neighborhoods to New York’s elite. Part of its mission is to give the kids a sense of purpose at a difficult time in life. The group has just released its first album, Black Mountain Songs, and is giving two high-profile concerts Friday and Saturday. Dianne Berkun Menaker founded the Brooklyn Youth Chorus 25 years ago, and she wants the kids to connect to the music they sing. So, she’s commissioned music from such rock musicians as Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry and The National’s Bryce Dessner…But for the concerts this weekend, Burkun Menaker wanted to give voice to her teenagers and their concerns. She asked her young singers what kinds of things they wanted to tackle musically in Silent Voices, the program they’re presenting this weekend at the Brooklyn Academy of Music — the topics that mattered to them as a racially, economically and culturally diverse group that comes from all over the city.” In response to the singers’ answers, commissions from composers such as Shara Nova will address topics such as race, gender, sexuality and ageism. NYSCA supports the Brooklyn Youth Chorus through our Arts Education Program.
Julia Bottoms-Douglas combats stereotypes with stark portraits
“In October of 2015, a few dozen Buffalo artists and curators huddled in the community room of Buffalo Arts Studio to discuss diversity and elitism in the art world. Most panel discussions on these topics are preach-to-the-choir affairs that rarely produce concrete action. This one was different. Buffalo Arts Studio curator Shirley Verrico and director Alma Carrillo gathered actionable intelligence at that meeting. They asked themselves what more they could do to grow their circle. And last year, they launched a multi-year collaboration with the progressive advocacy group Open Buffalo to highlight and fund the work of emerging local artists from underrepresented communities. The first results of that project, a series of remarkable oil portraits of black men, women and children by painter Julia Bottoms-Douglas, are now on view in Buffalo Arts Studio’s fifth-floor space in the Trimain Building. They are a testament to the untapped talent of Buffalo’s arts community and the power of a small organization to confront a seemingly intractable problem…The show, “Tinted: A Visual Statement on Color, Identity and Representation,” is a bravura attempt to combat the stereotypical images of black bodies that saturate the media landscape.” NYSCA supports the Buffalo Arts Studio through our Visual Arts, Special Arts Services and Facilities Programs.
Seneca Falls Canal Fest Secures Glass Barge
“The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) will bring its GlassBarge to this year’s Canal Fest. This all-new, world-class performance venue brings floating Hot Glass Demos to the Museum’s New York State neighbors along the Erie Canal and its connected waterways. The 2nd Annual Seneca Falls Canal Fest will be held July 7th through the 9th on both sides of the Seneca Falls Canal Harbor. In Seneca Falls, The CMoG will pay tribute to the role of women in New York State who shaped our nation. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote in New York State, GlassBarge will deploy an all-female glassblowing team to the Seneca Falls Canal Fest. Along with the Women’s Rights National Historical Park and the National Women’s Hall of Fame, The CMoG will take the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the artistry and skill of women glassmakers, who make up more than 50 percent of the glassmakers at the Museum.” NYSCA supports CMoG’s GlassBarge through our Regional Economic Development Council Program as part of our Erie Canal Bicentennial focus are, and also provides general support to CMoG through our Museum
The Met Museum Announces A ‘Once-In-A-Lifetime’ Michelangelo Exhibit
“Calling it a ‘once-in-a-lifetime exhibition,’ the Metropolitan Museum of Art just announced a late 2017 show of Michelangelo’s sketches and his ‘powerful imagery and dazzling technical virtuosity.’ Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer will run from November 13th through February 12th, 2018, and will feature 150 of the Renaissance master’s drawings, as well as three marble sculptures. The exhibit will include ‘his earliest painting, his wood architectural model for a chapel vault, the complete series of masterpiece drawings he created for his friend Tommaso de’Cavalieri and a monumental cartoon for his last fresco in the Vatican Palace.’ According to the press release, the pieces were ‘selected from 54 public and private collections in the United States and Europe, [and] the exhibition will examine Michelangelo’s rich legacy as a supreme draftsman and designer.’” NYSCA supports the Metropolitan Museum through our Museum and Presenting Programs.
Jazz Legend Billie Holiday to be Honored at One-Night-Only Apollo Show
“It’s showtime for Lady Day. The famed Apollo Theater will host a one-night-only concert spectacular honoring jazz legend Billie Holiday on May 16. The event will showcase 10 different acts, including singers and dancers, who will cover to the iconic singer’s discography, the theater said. Holiday got her start in Harlem and performed at the iconic theater at age 19, before she was propelled into stardom, according to The New York Times. The event will be hosted by radio and television personality Bevy Smith. The performers include jazz singer Lizz Wright, singer-songwriter Ruthie Foster, singer Bettye LaVette, among many others. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform an updated piece, called “Portrait of Billie,” which originally premiered in 1959.” NYSCA supports the Apollo Theater through our Music, Presenting, and Regional Economic Development Council Programs and Alvin Ailey through our Dance, Special Arts Services and Facilities Programs.
Drama League Launches First-Ever Summer Professional Theatre Intensive
“The Drama League has announced the launch of its first-ever pre-professional training program for college-aged actors and directors. The week-long workshop will employ Broadway and Off-Broadway teaching artists, who will help prepare aspiring young actors and directors for a career in the theatre industry. The workshop will be held at The Drama League Center in New York City, as well as at Stump Sprouts Retreat Center in Hawley, Massachusetts. The program will kick off with a Professional Industry Day in New York City, which will consist of panels and seminars with professional artists and producers, before taking in a Broadway or Off-Broadway performance. The following day, students will head to Hawley. During the private retreat, participants will take part in Master Workshops including Classic Text Approaches, and The Audition Room (From Both Sides of the Table), as well as classes specific to the actor and director programs. At the conclusion of the week, students will apply the techniques and approaches learned to rehearse and stage site-specific scenes of classic theatre.” NYSCA supports the Drama League through our Theatre Program.