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Spark Spotlight: Lewiston Council on the Arts, DEC Program of the Year

Lewiston Council on the Arts is the winner of this year’s Spark Award for DEC Program of the Year, an award that recognizes Art Services Initiative’s Decentralization (DEC) grantees for their hard work and successful art projects that took place during the previous calendar year.

The council—which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for everyone by nurturing a thriving environment for arts and cultural activities, promoting opportunities for artists, encouraging public participation in the arts, and actively advocating for the arts—is being recognized for the success of its Iroquois Market in 2019.

The Iroquois Market was held in conjunction with the 54th annual Lewiston Art Festival. The Hennepin Park Gazebo area was transformed into the Iroquois Market, where the rich history, customs, and culture of Native American traditions were highlighted and celebrated. Lewiston Council on the Arts partnered with the Tuscarora Nation to recruit Native artisans and performers from both sides of the Canadian/U.S. border, including drummers, musicians, and dancers. Free, hands-on activities were also offered at the market.

“Presentations by the Niagara River Iroquois Dancers were most spectacular,” the editor of Astoria Magazine reported.

Along with the dances were a number of explanations of Iroquois culture and the meaning of the dances. They invited members of the audience to participate in several of the dances and children were some of the first to join in; although seeing them having so much fun it was not long until many more joined in including myself. Near the end of the presentation, new dance leaders or ‘callers led the Friendship Dance that ended with greetings to the audience. It was a lot of fun for everyone there to learn more about traditional Iroquois arts and culture and both see firsthand and participate in the dances. I can’t wait to go again next year.

Astoria Magazine

Every fall, ASI awards DEC grants to individual artists and arts organizations to support arts and culture programming in Erie and Niagara counties. DEC grants are administered by ASI and funded by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). Learn more about these grants at the DEC page of our website.

For more information on ASI’s seventh annual Spark Awards, visit the Spark page of our website.

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