RACF initiative boosts region’s arts, cultural assets

Print More

The Rochester Area Community Foundation will highlight the region’s arts and cultural assets in a year-long program to mark its 50th anniversary.

Through “Gifts for Good: Sampling Cultural Gems Across Our Region,” the organization will underwrite free tickets or admission to a wide range of arts and cultural sites and performances throughout the Greater Rochester-Finger Lakes region, officials say. The program runs through March 2023.

Jennifer Leonard

“We want to support our nonprofit arts organizations, many of which were shuttered or temporarily sidelined by the pandemic,” says Jennifer Leonard, the Community Foundation’s president and CEO. “We hope that providing opportunities for free attendance will attract new patrons who will come back again in the future.” 

First in line among 24 opportunities is the Gateways Music Festival’s orchestra concert on April 20, at the Eastman Theatre. RACF will provide up to 400 free seats in the 2,400-seat Kodak Hall for the seven-day festival, which features classical musicians of African descent. Performers join the festival from all over the country. The Gateways Orchestra, with nearly 100 members, will debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City on April 24.

“Bringing people and music together has been part of Gateways Music Festival’s purpose since our founding in 1993. We are profoundly grateful to the Community Foundation for its steadfast support of our ‘Made in Rochester’ festival and for providing access to 400 members of our community to experience the orchestra,” says Lee Koonce, Gateways president and artistic director.

Other events include a Garth Fagan Dance performance, films as part of the ImageOut’s 30th annual fall festival and visits to some of the region’s museums. An evening of a capella music by two University of Rochester groups at Cobblestone Performing Arts Center in Ontario County is also in the mix.

Simeon Banister

“As one of the region’s most significant arts funders, we believe that offering a free sampling of some of our cultural gems is an appropriate way to mark our 50th anniversary,” says Simeon Banister, the Community Foundation’s executive vice president. “If you have never visited the Jell-O Museum in Genesee County or the National Warplane Museum in Livingston County, or seen a Finger Lakes Opera performance, now’s your chance.” 

On the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, RACF will underwrite a community paddle (kayaks and canoes) at the Finger Lakes Museum on Keuka Lake in Yates County, officials say. 

“As the Finger Lakes Museum strives to inspire appreciation of the cultures and ecology of the vast Finger Lakes Region, one of the best ways to do this is to get people outside and engaged in the natural world,” says Debbie Lyon, program director of the museum located in Branchport. “One of the most rewarding parts of my job is getting people of all ages out in kayaks to explore from the water, giving them a different perspective of the wonders that surround us.”

On June 18, RACF plans to partner with The Strong again to provide free admissions for the museum’s Juneteenth celebration and activities on site. In December, visitors to Genesee Country Village & Museum can explore the historic village in Mumford on snowshoes or cross-country skis.

The Community Foundation will officially celebrate its 50th anniversary with a gala on Sept. 17 at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center. Banister is slated to become president and CEO that month, when Leonard retires after nearly 30 years as its leader.

For a detailed list of free activities click here.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *