Book Arts to Receive $20,000 Grant

from the National Endowment for the Arts


Buffalo, NY—The WNY Book Arts Center (Book Arts) has been approved for a $20,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support PRINTING PARTNERS. This project is part of Book Arts’ educational outreach program hosted by community partners throughout the Buffalo region and offers free, sequential art classes to children & families in their own neighborhoods. Book Arts’ PRINTING PARTNERS project is among 1,125 projects across America totaling more than $26.6 million that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2022 funding.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts and cultural organizations throughout the nation with these grants, including Book Arts, providing opportunities for all of us to live artful lives,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “The arts contribute to our individual well-being, the well-being of our communities, and to our local economies. The arts are also crucial to helping us make sense of our circumstances from different perspectives as we emerge from the pandemic and plan for a shared new normal informed by our examined experience.”

Book Arts is pleased to receive NEA support to continue this vital program key to our organizational values of providing individuals throughout Buffalo and Erie County with equitable and inclusive arts programming. We look forward to working with our long-term partners, our dedicated teaching artists and the youth artists that contribute to making PRINTING PARTNERS such a spirited and essential program.

Laura McGough

Executive Director, WNY Book Arts Center

NEA funding will support comprehensive, sequential arts education for 450 PreK-12th grade students mirroring Buffalo’s rich cultural diversity, representing its extensive Black, Latinx and Native populations as well as recently resettled refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Congo, Iraq, and Somalia. Classes will be held in partnership with five community-based organizations, including: Journey’s End Refugee Services, Locust Street Art, Valley Community Association Inc., Buffalo & Erie County Public Libraries, and the Carnegie Art Center.

Just as the print industry revolutionized the distribution of information in America, Book Arts is revolutionizing the way art can serve, connect, and expand access to arts education and job training in WNY. PRINTING PARTNERS is a prime example of its approach to long-term community engagement and creating access for those most directly impacted by systemic racism, educational inequity, and economic inequality. It provides creative opportunity for youth to explore new skills and professional opportunity for artists to thrive. In 2022/23, each 8-week PRINTING PARTNERS’ session will achieve NYS Visual Art Learning Standards with two hours of artist-led instruction after-school and/or on Saturday afternoons. Classes are free & open to the public, and held at sites within walking distance of students’ homes. Each child receives an individual supply kit with basic and specialty items that they may keep following participation.

PRINTING PARTNERS’ workshops provide age appropriate lessons focused on such art-making techniques as hand-stitched bookbinding, origami, screen printing, block printing, letterpress, papermaking, and more. A sample program begins with artists encouraging students to talk about and investigate what makes a book a book. Students are then introduced to hand-made books and the tools artists use to create them, often challenging notions of what a book has to be. Throughout the 8-weeks, students create simple origami books, learn more advanced folding techniques, and graduate to hand-stitched books using more specialized tools. Papermaking and printmaking lessons are peppered
throughout. Each class builds upon skills learned in previous weeks and the session culminates with students creating their own bound journal with hand-printed cover.

Throughout the process, they achieve NYS Visual Arts Learning Standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10 & 11 as they explore the history and modern application of print technology. Book Arts is committed to providing a robust, equitable learning environment that fosters success for all students. In every workshop, students engage directly with artists and materials, learning vocabulary to talk about art and pride for the time, care, and skill they practiced to create their own unique works. Evaluation rubrics aligned with the NYS Learning Standards inform teaching methods and help to determine the order and speed in which concepts are introduced and scaffolded as well as which themes, processes, and outputs are most successful. Partner sites play a key role in advancing this objective and provide essential translation support and other student accommodations. In response to evaluation data and increased partner site requests, a Program Assistant has been hired to increase efficiencies and support PRINTING PARTNERS’ sustainable growth.

As PRINTING PARTNERS is an off-site program, Book Arts has spent years developing in-depth relationships
with organizations who share common service goals and who are located in some of Buffalo’s most underserved and culturally diverse neighborhoods. Book Arts’ staff, teaching artists, and partner sites work together to anticipate student needs and develop strategies that ensure equitable access to foster success for all. Partners have been selected for their commitment to neighborhood youth, the value they place on arts learning, their ability to provide translators and other student accommodations, and their commitment to achieving program goals. PRINTING PARTNERS is so well received that Book Arts has a list of organizations wishing to participate. Leaders are actively working to build the capacity needed to enable such growth, adding an Education Program Assistant in 2021 and prioritizing the creation of interconnected opportunities for students and early-career artists to advance.

For more information on other projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.