Arts Services Initiative of Western New York (A.S.I.,) is holding its first “Spark” Cultural Awards event for those within the community, “who ignite arts and culture,” according to A.S.I. Executive Director Tod Kniazuk. He is seeking to re-create the size and art-honoring scope of the former awards luncheon that was helmed by Arts Council in Buffalo & Erie County for more than two decades. ‘Spark” also is an E.S.I. fundraiser.
This event, held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. June 25 in the Hotel @ The Lafayette, honors several in the Western New York arts community. Molly Bethel, co-founder of Locust Street Neighborhood Art Classes, will receive a lifetime achievement award. Lynn Marinelli, director of Intergovernmental Relations at the Empire State Development’s W.N.Y. office, will be named 2014 Advocate for the Cultural Sector. Carmen and Dick Gilman of the 1891 Fredonia Opera House will receive the Unsung Hero Award.
Artist and educator Karen Sirgey will be honored for her Connections Sculpture Project with Niagara-Wheatfield high school students. Infinity Visual and Performing Arts Center in Jamestown and the Fund for the Arts, a local arts consortium, round out the list of honorees.
‘Spark’ will hand out surprise awards for both Artist of the Year and Cultural Organization of the Year. Three candidates are in the running for both. MarCe Zerrate, Shasti O’Leary Soudant and Mikel Wintermantel are nominees for the former; the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Torn Space Theater and Squeaky Wheel for the latter category.
In addition to the dinner and award ceremony, there will be a pop-up exhibit of work by all award nominees and winners, musical performances and open bar. All proceeds benefit A.S.I. and its mission to provide advocacy services for artists and arts organizations.