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Spark Spotlight: Chris J. Handley, Artist of the Year Finalist

Chris J. Handley is a finalist for this year’s Spark Award for Artist of the Year, an award that honors an individual artist in any discipline for their achievements during the previous year.

Chris has worked in theaters across the country for over 20 years as an actor, teacher, director, and producer. He currently serves as the associate artistic director of Buffalo’s Alleyway Theatre, where he founded the Theatre School of Western New York, and he will assume executive leadership this summer. He is also the vice president of the Theatre District Association, a 2019 Cullen Foundation Fellow, a member of the Actors’ Equity Liaison Committee, and faculty at SUNY Fredonia.

As an actor, Chris has performed locally on many of our region’s stages, including Alleyway Theatre, MusicalFare, Shakespeare in Delaware Park, 710 Main, Jewish Repertory Theatre, the Lancaster Opera House, and others. Just this season, he played roles as varied as Buddy (Elf the Musical), Bruce (Fun Home), Trinculo (The Tempest), and Matt (Talley’s Folly). He also recently staged the world premiere of the musical The King’s Legacy at Bristol Valley Theatre, and spent over two years as a Mississippi Riverboat entertainer.

As an independent teaching artist, he has developed various workshops on the craft, taught privately, and spent three years teaching acting and voice/speech to BFA and BA theater students. Chris holds an MFA in Acting from Indiana University and a BFA in Musical Theatre from SUNY Fredonia.

Chris and the other finalists will be honored at ASI’s 7th Annual Sparks Award on Monday, November 16. For more information, visit the Spark page of our website.

For more information on ASI’s seventh annual Spark Awards on November 16, visit the Spark page of our website.


[Please note that ASI is closely monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19 and its potential impact on this year’s Spark Awards on November 16. 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
JoAnn Falletta
Chris J. Handley
Edreys Wajed

Arts Integration
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

Lifetime Achievement
Vincent O’Neill, Irish Classical Theatre Co.

Rising Star
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

Unsung Hero
Beth Pedersen, Buffalo Society of Artists

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