If we were to ask you about art capitals of the world, chances are you’d say Paris or Rome. New York. Maybe even Los Angeles or Miami. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to add Buffalo to that list. There’s an urban renaissance happening in Western New York, and the University at Buffalo is driving the charge.
Lack of talent has never been the issue for Buffalo. From the community itself to the students who come from across the country - the world - to study here, Buffalo has always been teeming with creativity. The problem’s been keeping it here. Especially for our art students. Our Arts Collaboratory, conceived out of the Dean’s Office at the UB College of Arts and Sciences, was designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration between the arts across campus, to build community, and, ultimately, to turn Queen City into a thriving hub for artistic expression.
In providing the right resources and making the right hires to turn Buffalo into an artist incubator, Dean Robin G. Schulze recognized the potential for the Collaboratory to usher in a new chapter for Buffalo, creating opportunities for citizens and students alike, and revitalizing the city in the process.
Bronwyn Keenan, formerly of the Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Art and a namesake gallery in her own right, agreed that Buffalo had all the right ingredients. After signing onto the project, she devised the strategy and programming for the Collaboratory, which launched in Fall ‘19 and has since launched a student residency program.
With this new initiative, talent at the University at Buffalo is more closely connected with the City of Buffalo in a new way, and Buffalo’s residents would have the chance to interact with UB in ways they hadn’t before.
“The Arts Collaboratory is providing our students unprecedented opportunities to enter the world of the creative arts prepared, in all ways, to succeed on their own terms," Schulze said.
Everyone can be an artist in theory. In practice, not so much. From the outset, the Arts Collaboratory has set out to democratize art, making it a viable, accessible career for those who traditionally have been barred. In a city with the third-worst childhood poverty rate in the country and one of the nation’s highest levels of income inequality, this is pivotal. As Keenan observed when she became the Collaboratory’s director, “It was a great way to give back to the students who aren’t born on third base."
The ongoing coronavirus crisis has only made this work more important. Since the start of the pandemic, more than $30,000 has been distributed to eighty University at Buffalo and community artists to encourage them to keep working. Virtual space was provided across social media and YouTube to showcase art in lieu of in-person exhibits, and, perhaps more importantly, the artists weren’t left behind.
At the University at Buffalo, we’re supporting the next generation of Basquiats. Kahlos. Monets. Here, students learn to live their art out loud. Boldly. Proudly. Then they’re given the tools to share it with the world and leave their mark.
Fortune favors the bold. Be bold with us.
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