Founded in 1962, Young Audiences of Western New York's mission is to make the arts a part of young people's lives, primarily through work with the schools located throughout the region's eight counties. "If we had to take art out of our schools, I think they would lose an energy and a life that brings kids alive," said Michael Weidrich, the agency's recently-named Executive Director.
During an introductory conversation with WBFO, Weidrich offered a wide view of the arts. He acknowledged how funding cuts could threaten important outreach efforts.
"Kids have such fertile imaginations and the arts are a conduit to bring that out. And when you take your imagination and take your sciences and your maths and combine them, you come up with some amazing things."
According to Weidrich, a graduate of the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts and Syracuse University, his organization has developed a roster of 70 artists who can work with schools and organizations on educational programs.
"Every shape and size artist you can pretty much imagine we have on our roster."
Weidrich has spent much of his career working with cultural organizations in Albany. Still in the early months on his new job, he understands Young Audiences of Western New York has a major role to play in the region.
"Our home is in Erie County and we have the biggest impact here, but we are in some way connected to all eight of those counties, especially the rural areas," he said.
"We're really looking to do a lot more in the rural areas because they don't have the access to cultural resources like we do here in the heart of downtown Buffalo."