60 Stories for 60 Years

We began our journey 60 YEARS AGO with the mission to cultivate the next generation of audience members at theaters, concert halls, and cultural centers. We could have never known where it would lead us.

To mark our 60th anniversary, we invited members of our community to share their stories with us, so we could showcase and reflect on our incredible history while looking to the future.

Story 1 of 60

Students and teachers are excited to work with teaching artists, the YAWNY Education Coordinator, and our own school's art specialists to make learning hands on, interdisciplinary, and as exciting as possible for our students by incorporating the arts into all we do." -Sue Mikula, Holland School District

Story 2 of 60

Red Tie Variety was fabulous!! The students LOVED him and it was a perfect first assembly after 2.5 years of none. -Fran Paskowitz, Teacher

Story 3 of 60

The Wondermakers actress, Claudia Catalano, posing with a Kindergarten student from PS #54 during a performance of "Shakespeare Funnies."

Story 4 of 60

The arts are essential, especially for kids who have been inundated by screen time. The Young Audiences workshops at the Community School Saturday Academies have given my children the opportunity to develop their creativity and motor skills through hands-on arts activities. -Molly Towey, Parent - North Park Community School

Story 5 of 60

Whether it's craft making or yoga instruction; the students are encouraged to be kids first and students second. Each experience solidified the goal we set out to accomplish with our summer programming: educational enrichment through the arts." - Dennis M. Wright, Summer School Principal - Maryvale Primary School

Story 6 of 60

Arts for Learning WNY helps Book Arts spread the word about our book and print making programming! They make it simple for our organization to develop partnerships and dynamic hands-on arts opportunities with schools and other learning institutions, all for the benefit of the students. We're so glad to be a cultural partner! - Rosemary Williams, Education Director - WNY Book Arts Center

Story 7 of 60

I am so grateful for the opportunity to go into the rural communities of WNY and share my programming. I remember professional musicians visiting my school as a young student through a BOCES program and it was deeply impactful on my journey as a musician. The fact that I can bring my joy and love for music to these communities is so gratifying. -Anna Mattix, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Arts Partners for Learning Partner

Story 8 of 60

We've had youth that have ended up taking their skills further with the help of artists from Young Audiences, one youth was even asked to work with a teaching artist on a project out in the community. We have always had a great experience working with their roster of amazing, talented and kind artists. - Gabriella Jamieson, Youth Peer Advocate - Family Help Center

Story 9 of 60

The artists who came to our library supported the curriculum of some of our homeschooling families and inspired audiences from toddlers to retirees with their artistic achievements. I am grateful to the staff and the artists for their interest in reaching out to our community and proving that art matters to all of us. -Mary Conable, Warsaw Public Library

Story 10 of 60

Doug Yeomans' show is fantastic - the audience engaged with him throughout the performance, asking questions and even singing along at the end! -Donna-Jo Webster, Eden Library

Story 11 of 60

Because of our work with Young Audiences, we have seen improved behavior, stronger attendance rates, increased student engagement, higher levels of creativity, improvements in literacy skills, higher test scores in mathematics, as well as increased self-confidence in public speaking and performing. - Kate Paolini Assistant Principal - Waterfront Elementary School

Story 12 of 60

ArtWorks taught me a lot about myself. I learned that the energy you give, is the energy you receive in return. The importance of patience and how to overcome anxieties to be a more outspoken person. -Isaac ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 13 of 60

They started jumping and clapping... it was awesome. If for a few moments they had the freedom of expression wild in their minds. The student artists left the class invigorated and so did I. -Kristin Brandt, Teaching Artis

Story 14 of 60

Due to money, or should I say lack there- of always being an issue for libraries – quite often we are unable to offer programs such as these so again we are so very thankful to the Young Audiences of WNY for giving us these opportunities! -Shellie Williams, Director - Minerva Free Library

Story 15 of 60

It's been magical to see students take ownership of the Bard's words and characters. Allowing students to bring so much of themselves to Shakespeare fulfills our mission and inspires our work. -Gabriella McKinley, Shakespeare in Delaware Park

Story 16 of 60

More than a "teaching artist!" - Janice Spagnola is truly an artist who loves to teach. She helped every child feel successful regardless of their age or ability. Her energetic, upbeat attitude was contagious. We are thrilled that she is coming again! -Erin Robinson, Arcade Free Library

Story 17 of 60

I believe arts education is extremely important, especially in rural settings where our exposure to the arts is more limited. Rural libraries, however, also have more limited funding and staffing. Collaborating with Arts for Learning WNY has allowed our library to overcome the financial barrier that has previously stopped us from being able to make arts programming a regular occurrence at our library. -Rebecca Connolly, Cordelia Greene Library

Story 18 of 60

As a race educator and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEI&B) practitioner, it is imperative to partner with organizations who have moved past performative “D&I,” and are ready to do the real work of building inclusion. I saw that with the Arts for Learning staff and Teaching Artists. -Gigi Gilliard, Founder/CEO - Gigi Gilliard Development

Story 19 of 60

We need Young Audiences of Western New York in our community; the kids need you to have access to arts programming in our community. Thank you for all you do. -Rashaad Holley, Teaching Artist

Story 20 of 60

I watched young people grow up and change from inexperienced teenagers to young professionals in a matter of weeks. Not only did we create art for the youth to sell, display, and be proud of, the youth created adult, professional relationships and gained real world skills they can take with them into any work environment. -Jeremy Stock, Teaching Artist

Story 21 of 60

It has been amazing to witness the teens I worked with thinking and reaching beyond their own expectations, and actively becoming positive and proactive leaders, while using their art to inspire others. This really speaks to what happens when the arts are creatively integrated into education. -Aitina Fareed-Cooke, Teaching Artist

Story 22 of 60

We’ve seen first-hand the pride and confidence arts integrated programs has given participants in their artwork, daily life, and career paths; it can be truly life changing for them. -Western New York Book Arts Center, Arts Partners for Learning Partner

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Thank you so much for the opportunity to share all your love with music to our students! I know everyone loved the performances over the week! So many staff members came down to express how much they loved the performances and how much the students were engaged! The middle school/high school had 56 total students participate... and each one will remember this experience forever. -The Summit Center Educator

Story 25 of 60

We love these events so much and are so grateful for all you've done to get these programs to us! -Rebecca Connolly, Cordelia Greene Library

Story 26 of 60

The partnership of collaboration we have developed with Arts for Learning WNY has brought the arts to our small rural community in Western New York and has enriched the lives of all the students it has touched in the past 20 year. It has been exciting to watch the arts in education program grow, develop, and expand as an integral piece of Holland’s school culture. -Sue Mikula, Art Teacher - Holland Central School District

Story 27 of 60

I had so much fun listening to Sheryl Hadeka and Anna Mattix play. We were able to ask questions! I am a musician myself. I play the cornet trumpet. I had felt a lot more motivated after the video call. COVID can be hard, we don’t have band class now, but we do have lessons. It was an amazing experience, and I am honored to be able to do it. -Miranda, 6th Grade Student - Letchworth Central School

Story 28 of 60

The students LOVED having Young Audiences Teaching Artists come to our school! They were a perfect fit after 2.5 years of none. -Fran Paskowitz, Teacher

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During my time in ArtWorks, I learned more about myself, how to work hard, and how to communicate better with others. -Poe S. P., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 30 of 60

My participation in Artworks has enabled me to feel prepared for the future. I believe that things such as professional development, public speaking, and financial literacy workshops have given me the necessary skill set for the workforce. -Jevin W., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 31 of 60

The Erie Canal Traveling Museum was a huge hit with our third graders that came to visit the library that day for the specific reason of checking out the Museum’s artifacts. My granddaughter who was one of the participants told me it was one of the best field trips she had been on this year. They also enjoyed Melissa Kate Miller and loved that she sang to them as well! -Shellie Williams, Director - Minerva Free Library

Story 32 of 60

The kids were beautiful. They were so responsive. Moved. So smart. So expressive and polite. -Fotini Galanes, Teaching Artist

Story 33 of 60

Both classroom and special subject teachers were immersed in authentic, hands-on learning experiences that were enriched by literacy and the media arts to bring back to the classrooms. The artists' were not only passionate about their art, they also were able to connect with our audience of adult learners! -Aimee Bloom, Staff Development Specialist - Erie 2 - Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES

Story 34 of 60

Our patrons have had so much fun and learned so much through the programs they have sent to our library. Additionally, these programs have helped us reach new members of our community who were not previously using library services. This relationship has been invaluable to the library, and we hope to be able to work with Young Audiences for years to come! -Rebecca Connolly, Cordelia Greene Library

Story 35 of 60

Then they were able to use the knowledge learned to develop mood boards, do research, create fashion pieces, and hold photo shots. I am extremely honored to have gone on this journey with them and I am gracious to be a beacon to let their creativity shine and bring it all together. -Rashaad Holley, Teaching Artist

Story 36 of 60

Young Audiences is uniquely positioned in the region to integrate into the instructional environment. Artists are committed to work with teachers and staff at Waterfront in a collaborative effort that engages our diverse student body. -Kate Paolini, Assistant Principal - Waterfront Elementary School

Story 37 of 60

Our small school doesn’t get a lot of arts programming so again, it was really appreciated. Thank you for everything you do to help smaller schools that don’t get a lot of access to the arts. -Student participant, Letchworth Central School

Story 38 of 60

our small school doesn’t get a lot of arts programming so again, it was really appreciated. Thank you for everything you do to help smaller schools that don’t get a lot of access to the arts. -Sidney, Student Participant - Letchworth Central School

Story 23 of 60

For me, arts education is about communication and collaboration. We’re making these connections through art, but still doing things that are academic. It just proves what art can do, it can make these kinds of connections for children and adults that can make history come alive. - Michele Agosto, Director of Arts - Buffalo Public Schools

Story 39 of 60

I am a mom to 2 boys at Northwood with Palestinian heritage, & I often had difficulties growing up with awful labels. This assembly brought tears to my eyes because it gave kids mine an opportunity to be excited & proud of their heritage instead of hiding. I can’t tell you how deeply meaningful that is. To hear other kids excited about dancing Dabke with their families during the program made me feel hopeful & less isolated in this pandemic year. -Northwood Elementary School Parent

Story 40 of 60

I joined the ArtWorks program as an apprentice, and it opened my eyes to all the amazing things happening in my town and has been a great first job. I didn’t know anyone going into the program but meeting and working with so many different types of people helped me to be more open. -Zakariya R., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 41 of 60

I believe ArtWorks teaches things to teens that we often wonder about as far as college, banking and anything in preparation financially. These are things that we will need for our future that they educate us about. Artworks also of course teaches us about different media in art and they also provide us with excellent instructors and teachers. -Rivy M., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 42 of 60

Working with Young Audiences, it has been in one word – easy! They have made my library’s life and mine easy, which in these tight, stressful, busy times is worth its weight in gold. From the start they contacted us and said can we give you arts programming, pay for it, and do all the work. -Erin Robinson, Arcade Free Library

Story 43 of 60

We just had Alan from Roycroft at our library for a program, and it was an excellent program. Everyone enjoyed the project! Thank you for the opportunity to offer the program to our patrons. -Samantha Covis, Lee-Whedon Memorial Library

Story 44 of 60

During ArtWorks, I learned to be more confident in myself and my decisions. I have built so many bonds. I enjoyed the team-building activities and professional development we would have every Monday. It forced me to trust myself so others can trust me. -Nusrat Z., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 45 of 60

Within the program, I’ve learned Indian/Bollywood dancing. Throughout our sessions, I’ve come to understand the importance of limited time and practice making progress. My favorite part about the program was our professional development Mondays and having the chance to meet/relate to our guest speakers. -Noe A., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 46 of 60

While at ArtWorks, I learned to be more fluid and open with others. I learned how to better myself in real life, and through my art. I was able to meet some incredible people. I’m truly grateful to have had this experience. -Izzy R., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 47 of 60

During my time at Artworks, I learned the value of creativity and collaboration together in hand and began to understand how important it is to have a group of individuals sharing the same ideals and passion for art to work together with. My favorite part of this program was growing such amazing, fun, and productive friendships with these individuals fueled by things we are all collectively passionate about. -Fabia F. C., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 48 of 60

Thank you all so much for partnering with Letchworth – it was a true complement to my mission of music education that you reached out to us. We need the arts more than ever during this time! -Jason Decker, Letchworth Central School Teacher

Story 49 of 60

Arabiqa was an absolute delight! I have been teaching for over 20 years and this assembly was among the best I have seen. Karim is a fascinating communicator. He skillfully engaged students and adults alike! It was heartwarming to see children, teachers, and families dancing and enjoying music together. The performance gave our school a sense of community and togetherness during this pandemic year. -Tracy Gerardi, Music Teacher - Northwood Elementary

Story 50 of 60

I have been in Young Audiences programs since I was in the fifth grade. During that time, I met multiple curators and artists around Buffalo, which really opened my eyes to all the amazing things that were happening in my hometown. Meeting so many new people helped develop my public speaking skills along with getting comfortable with different types of people and appreciating their working spaces. -Tahynnis N., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 51 of 60

During Artworks I learned many things such as poetry and how to express my strong feminine identity in words. I’ve had a lot of fun working with new people. -Sevinch B., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 52 of 60

Being a part of the Artworks program has given me the opportunity to learn and experience new things. I also learned how to step out of my comfort zone and communicate with new people; which has allowed me to form close friendships with the other apprentices. Being in artworks has really broadened my horizons not only in running a business and photography, but buffalo as a whole as well. -Robin F. Q., ArtWorks Apprentice

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ArtWorks has brought out the best in me. It has helped me grow out of my comfort zone. I am leaving with writing skills and general art tips/techniques. These past 3 months have given me friends and confidence. I’ve enjoyed every day here, and I’m grateful for this opportunity! -Layla M., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 54 of 60

While being in ArtWorks, I have learned that working with others is better than working alone. My favorite part of Artworks was career day because it was fun learning about what we want to do in the future. I love how excited we all were to share our future careers. -Mackenzie M., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 55 of 60

During ArtWorks, I learned I like to dance. Despite my love for music, I’ve never felt comfortable expressing it with my body. However, when I heard one of the art forms would be Indian dance, the Deshi in me could not be held back. I was hesitant but learning about Holi mythology and bonding over Deshi culture became my favorite part of this program. I was able to meet an amazing and supportive group of people. -Fariha L., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 56 of 60

From this Artworks experience, I have learned to home in on more details on even mundane things I do every single day and I have also learned that there are messages to be found in everything. My favorite part of Artworks was Mondays when we had team-building activities and were able to learn workforce development skills to really prepare me for my future. -Mbala K., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 57 of 60

Since my time in ArtWorks, I have learned to accept when I’m not good at something and strived to become better at it. Because trust me I am absolutely terrible at dancing. Anyhow...my favorite part of Artworks was when we were playing with Holi powder. It was my favorite event because it was a time when everyone seemed free and no one feared judgment. This event taught me that when you make people feel free, you can discover who they truly are. -Aaron, ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 58 of 60

During the infancy stage of building relationships with my peers, I was put on the spot to do a dry reading during the public speaking workshop. Although I was nervous, I was able to step out of my comfort zone and did it. The experience made me so uncomfortable that I started to rethink continuing a degree in journalism. As the program progressed however, I evolved. I became more comfortable in my skin, and I was able to give ideas and accept input. -Taylor W., ArtWorks Apprentice

Story 59 of 60

Within the Artworks program, I’ve learned poetry and writing efficiently. My favorite part was decorating the stage for the final showcase and collaborating with my team. When collaborating with my peers, I found common interests through our similarities and overall talents. The connections we made were very memorable throughout this entire program. I thank Artworks as well as our artists for making such a memorable time for all of us! -Bushra R., ArtWorks Apprentice