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Summer program will expose 100 Buffalo students to the arts

A new summer arts program was unveiled Monday for Buffalo Public Schools students.

The Buffalo City Summer School of the Arts will be for students in grades 7 through 12 and will focus on five areas – visual arts, musical theater, dramatic writing, dance and multi-media arts.

The program will be funded with $29,000 from the Buffalo Public School Foundation, the non-profit that provides financial support for athletics, arts and academics at city schools.

In a prepared statement, Superintendent Kriner Cash noted that the district has “placed a strong emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields with enthusiastic student response and I strongly believe the arts component lends essential balance to the overall education of children.”

Foundation Chairman Jon Dandes said funding the program can enhance students’ interest and called it “an investment in the future – theirs and ours.”

The district held a press conference Monday at the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts to announce the program.

The foundation had provided funding for arts enrichment in the district when the non-profit first began in 2006 under former Superintendent James A. Williams, but had not done so in recent years, said Michele Agosto, supervisor of curriculum in art education for the district.

Now, the funding will allow the district to pilot and grow a summer arts program, modeled after the successful New York State Summer School of the Arts program offered to high school students across the state.

A total of 100 students will be accepted into Buffalo’s new summer program, about 20 in each of the five fields of interest.

“They’re going to be vetted through a portfolio process. Each student will have to submit a portfolio of some sort,” Agosto said. “It is a high level of work, so these kids do have to be ready for this.”

The program will start July 5 and run for three hours a day throughout the summer at various locations around the city, including the former Performing Arts School on Clinton Street, City Honors School and Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Center on Main Street.

Agosto, who will oversee the program, tried to choose areas of student interest and involve a number of local artists, including Alex and Nancy Fernandez. The couple recently started a virtual reality production company and will teach the media arts.

“We’ll be focusing on emerging technologies, learning about three-dimensional design and 3-D printing,” said Alex Fernandez, who is also an analyst for the Yahoo! data center in the Town of Lockport.

For more details and applications to the summer arts program, students should check out the district website at or call Agosto’s office at 816-3601.