Buffalo State opens artistic arms to the community

The Community Arts Academy is set to begin its fourth year.

Reuben Wolf, Arts Editor

SUNY Buffalo State has always been one to give back to the community. With the Community Arts Academy set to begin classes, Buffalo State has chosen to give back to the community via Saturday classes that strive to keep alive what some consider to be a dying part of academia.

“The humanities is alive and thriving, despite what nay-sayers believe,” said Buffalo State’s Dean of Arts and Humanities, Benjamin Christy. “People often forget that employers want people who are good writers, creative and critical thinkers, which is exactly what the humanities provide.”

The Community Arts Academy came to Buffalo State about four years ago, when several music professors expressed interest in giving music classes back to the community.

They approached Dean Christy, who had been a clarinet professor at Rowan University and Dean of the Visual and Performing Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Dean Christy had started Community Arts Academies before while serving at both institutions, so he implemented a similar program at Buffalo State.

The Academy consists of classes every Saturday over five-week sessions as well as summer camp programming. It is open to any member of the Buffalo community.

Initially, the program was very music-focused and geared toward students up to grade 12. However, programming has recently opened up to include classes on digital storytelling, dance and photography as well as offering adults piano classes.

“Our main focus is definitely children, because the program is about how parents can give their children activities to participate in when they are not in school,” Christy said. “But there was an overwhelming interest in adults with regard to piano lessons.”

Thus far, enrollment for this session’s Community Arts Academy is around 100 students with seven classes to choose from. Christy feels the program is a success thus far, but he also acknowledges that they could be doing more.

“For this to be the fourth year, we have had to be successful the past three years,” Christy said, “but we are still not where we want to be.”

Christy has yet to garner numbers on overall academic improvement from the students based on their participation in the program, but he does believe, on some level, that these students are benefiting from participation in the program.

Classes are offered every Saturday. Classes began March 4 and go until April 1. The next session is set to begin April 8.

Registration for classes costs between $45-$120, depending on the class you sign up for.

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