Thursday, January 21, 2010

Greater Buffalo Media Arts Professionals to Lead After-School Career Training

(Buffalo, New York) - Teens are most at risk of making poor choices between the weekday hours of 3-6 pm. In response, schools and youth centers have developed a variety of after-school programs, the best practices of which blend academics, recreation and socialization as productive ways to fill those less supervised hours. Engaging kids is challenging when competing with the world of seductive media saturated with pop icons behaving badly. Programs need to be equally provocative, meaningful and push the creative edge.

Buffalo, New York is leading with a new model.

The newly organized “Play it forward partnership”, described as ‘A WNY collective of teaching artists & organizations empowering students with the love, lessons and legacy of careers in the creative arts’ has booked an impressive series of top talent to teach students about unique and emerging professions in the media industry, while stressing the value of post-high school education. The series began on January 13, a weekly, 20-session after school-program, Music & Media – career coaching, after-school (“M&M” program) will launch the program with a team of 15 high school students attending The Valley Center in South Buffalo. Additional sites are being prepared. The new program has the attention of education leaders in Albany.

The “M&M” idea grew out of the 2 recent “tunes4food” Food Bank of Western New York benefit events that united students and veteran artists in a community service setting – raising over 14,000 pounds of food. James, who is a state-certified student leadership trainer, organized that collaboration as a next step in an 11-year effort that started with a “musicians-united” safe school benefit & awareness raising CD. Entitled, “War is Over”, the CD was released on April 9, 1999, 2 weeks before the Columbine High School tragedy captured the nation’s attention.

“The status-quo approaches to motivating students to learn and grow need to be replaced”, states Dr. Felicia Watson, Director of New York State’s 21st CCLC State-wide Technical Assistance Center (that provides professional development to over 500 after-school sites and 2,000 programs in New York State, collectively funded by $120,000,000 each year. “For years Bob James [of Student Voices] has been a source of pioneering new ‘best-practice' models of just how to move past the tired and old with something that is alive, real and student-centered. This is an awesome way to kick-off the new decade with this creative, grassroots, community-wide approach - perfectly perched to serve both kids and organizations!”

The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame will assist in coordinating the growing partnership which includes, CEPA Gallery, the MINE group from GCR Audio (Music Industry Network Events), Squeaky Wheel, Ciurczak & Co., program evaluators, Linda Appleby’s Buffalo Select Chorus, Buffalo’s Business First, many of the “tunes4food” musicians, local media businesses and several others. “Performers make great teachers”, states Anthony Casuccio, Vice President of the Hall of Fame. “This is a perfect opportunity for the talent and life stories of our inductees to inspire and inform kids about career options in the arts industry.”

Working artists set to share their career stories and perform for the students include: guitarist, Doug Yeomans; band leader, Joyce Wilson Nixon; Free Henry!, Lee Ron Zydeco, The HEADERS, Nelson Starr, Tim O’Shei, Managing Editor from Business First, filmmaker Jax Deluca, and songwriter, Grace Stumberg. Designing the project with local talent and resources helps control costs, keeping the program affordable and expandable to additional sites. “The Valley Center is proud to be the first site for this – like a private concert series. Kids are excited”, states Brian Pilarski, youth director at the Valley Community Association. “It will be great to watch this evolve.”

The new program’s first series will wrap on June 9th, with a large event open to the community.

For complete schedule, go HERE and contact Bob James above.

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