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The Community Art Project

Imagine a childhood where books do not exist. Parents who do not read to you or take you to the library. Parents, who sadly, do not know how to read themselves. Imagine how differently your childhood, my childhood, might have been. That, you might think, does not happen here, not today in our neighborhoods.

But it does. And it is exactly why Read to Succeed Buffalo (RTSB) is launching a new campaign, a community art project, that they hope will promote the need for a more literate community and, in particular, to promote the idea of family literacy; parents or caregivers and children reading together.

The Community Art Project (CAP), inspired by similar campaigns used in Syracuse and Ithaca, is looking for various artists to create original artwork focusing on the theme of family literacy. The artwork will then be transferred onto banners, approximately 9 feet by 12 feet high, and hung on buildings throughout the city for one year starting in August. In addition to the banners RTSB is working to schedule a traveling art exhibit and to create a calendar with the completed artwork.

Joann Steinmetz, Senior Program Manager at Read to Succeed, surely echoes the ideals of all of her colleagues when she says that their goal with this program, with all of their programs, is to achieve 100% literacy in the city of Buffalo, a city with close to 65,000 residents currently reading at or below a 5th grade reading level.

 “One thing that is very apparent and documented is that the problem with low literacy is an intergenerational one,” says Steinmetz.  “If a mom or dad are illiterate that does not bode well for the children. We believe that literacy starts with the family, which is a key theme we are trying to bring out in the artwork.”
Read to Succeed is currently looking for eleven additional artists to participate in the project. Interested  artists must be from Western New York and should submit a sketch of a original artwork to RTSB by April 15th.

In addition to accepting paintings, drawings and photographs, RTSB will also accept photos of other three-dimensional works such as sculptures or quilts. A stipend of $250 will be paid, upon completion, to each of the final twelve artists.

While commitments are not firm as to where the banners will hang, possible Read To Succeed coalition members include the Buffalo & Erie County Central Library, Buffalo Public Schools and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Buffalo.

Interested artists should contact Joann Steinmetz, Senior Program Manager at Read to Succeed Buffalo with questions or to submit artwork. Steinmetz can be reached at (716) 843-8895 or Read to Succeed Buffalo initiatives such as the Community Art Project are made possible by the generous support of a Funders Collaborative which includes the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, The John R. Oishei Foundation and the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation.

Image: This drawing was created by Buffalo artist Marybeth Cunningham and will be included as part of the Read to Succeed Community Art Project.

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