Michele Agosto is the winner of this year’s Spark Award for Trailblazer of the Arts, an honor that recognizes an individual for their efforts to call attention to the importance of the arts through their work in advocacy, arts administration, curating, or promotion. This individual can be at any level in their career or involvement in the arts, and often uses “boots on the ground” methods to bring the arts to Western New York communities.
Michele is the Director of Arts for the Buffalo City School District. She has served the children of Buffalo since 1994, with 10 of those years as a middle school art teacher in the Black Rock area.
Born to Puerto Rican parents and raised in Washington Heights, Michele enjoyed a very happy, vibrant, and diverse upbringing. It was her family who fortified the notion that success in the arts was possible. Michele is an alumnus of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music and the Arts in New York City. She holds a BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Art, M.S. in Teaching /Art Education from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a M.A. in Educational Administration with an advanced certification from University at Buffalo.
Currently, her work is being shown at Castellani Art Museum’s ’20/20 Vision: Women Artists in Western NY.’
Michele’s leadership extends to volunteering her time and resources by serving on the boards of several arts organizations. She is Vice President of the Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY and is a member of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House and Neglia Ballet Conservatory. She’s also a member of BPO Diversity Council, Roswell Park Art Advisory Committee, Theater of Youth Education Committee, and Buffalo Arts Studio Education Committee. In addition, she is a Buffalo Society of Artists exhibiting member and cofounder of Los Artistas del Barrio, and co-hosted the bilingual/bicultural radio show Sin Fronteras WNY.
Michele has exhibited her art throughout the Buffalo-Niagara region and has received many recognitions. Currently, her work is being shown at Castellani Art Museum’s “20/20 Vision: Women Artists in Western NY.” She frequently presents at the national level on arts education and topics in social justice, and is a selected member of the NYS Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Commission for the Arts.
[Please note that ASI is closely monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19 and its potential impact on this year’s Spark Awards on May 13. In the meantime, we still feel it’s important to spotlight the important work of our many honorees.]
Spark Awards 2020 Honorees & Finalists
We are excited to announce the 2020 Spark Awards honorees and finalists:
Arts Organization of the Year Finalists
1891 Fredonia Opera House Performing Arts Center
O’Connell & Company
Unique Theatre Co.
Artist of the Year Finalists
Chris J. Handley
The Children’s Guild Foundation Autism Spectrum Disorder Center at Oishei Children’s Hospital
DEC Program of the Year
Lewiston Council on the Arts’ Iroquois Market
Vincent O’Neill, Irish Classical Theatre Co.
West Falls Center for the Arts
Supporter of the Cultural Sector
Joel Feroleto, Buffalo Common Council Member, Delaware District
Trailblazer of the Arts
Michele Agosto, Buffalo Public Schools
Beth Pedersen, Buffalo Society of Artists