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Art-in-Motion launches series of public conversations and performances aimed at spurring urban revitalization

February 12, 2010

Jemeli Tanui
(315) 443-5172

Art-in-Motion, a newly announced partnership of Imagining America, Open Hand Theater and Syracuse Stage, is an experimental, hands-on project that will include conversations and performances centered on activating the arts and stimulating urban redevelopment in Syracuse.

Art-in-Motion includes four conversations bringing visiting scholars and artists together with Syracuse residents to discuss the impact of art connecting and strengthening communities. The centerpiece of Art-in-Motion is a communal practical art project whereby residents will create giant puppets and theatrical scenes reflecting their neighborhood identities, culminating in a citywide street performance with the finished puppets in mid-September.

The conversations kick off Wednesday, March 3, at The Warehouse in downtown Syracuse with an 8:30 a.m. breakfast talk featuring renowned multimedia artist Barnaby Evans, creator of the famous WaterFire installation in Providence, R.I., that includes 100 bonfires on the city’s three downtown rivers. Evans will discuss the relevance of WaterFire—which has attracted more than 10 million visitors, bringing life to downtown Providence—in the context of Syracuse’s ongoing revitalization efforts.

The Art-in-Motion partners hope to bring together an audience comprising people from different sectors of Central New York—including business, higher education, the arts and government, and representing the city’s diverse neighborhoods. “The visiting scholars and artists will extend our understanding of cultural participation in development as relevant to both local and national initiatives across the United States,” says Jan Cohen-Cruz, Imagining America director and University Professor at Syracuse University.

Funding for the four conversations leading up to the final performance comes from a New York Council for the Humanities grant. Funding for the final collaborative performance comes from a Chancellor’s Leadership Project grant, initiated by SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. SU’s Office of Community Engagement and Economic Development and the Syracuse Public Art Commission are co-sponsors of the first conversation with Evans.

In September 2010, the arts conversations will culminate in Art-in-Motion: A Citywide Performance, a large-scale street show starring Syracuse residents, staff from Open Hand Theater and Syracuse Stage, and SU students, in collaboration with SU’s Office of the University Arts Presenter. Open Hand Theater’s Geoff Navias and Syracuse Stage’s Lauren Unbekant will work with different city neighborhoods over the next few months, developing and creating the puppet and theatrical scenes. SU students through the College of Visual and Performing Arts Drama Department’s “Art in Action” course will assist and participate while learning about the community.

For more information on the first conversation or to R.S.V.P., e-mail or call (315) 443-8590. For more information on the featured artist, visit Barnaby Evans’ website at

About the Art- in- Motion partners and collaborators:

Imagining America is a national consortium of more than 85 colleges and universities committed to public scholarship in the arts, humanities and design, currently hosted by SU. Open Hand Theater is a Syracuse-based museum and professional theater company that celebrates the human experience through mask and puppet traditions. Syracuse Stage creates new work and fresh interpretations of classics, and is committed to enhancing the cultural richness of Central New York and the vitality of theatre itself. The SU Arts Presenter Office brings renowned artists to SU and Syracuse, allowing the formation of connections between art, academia and the community to enhance the transformation of the Central New York region through the arts.

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