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

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.

Visiting scholars

The conversations kick off Wednesday, March 3 at the Warehouse in downtown Syracuse with an 8:30 a.m. breakfast talk featuring renowned multi-media artist Barnaby Evans, creator of the famous WaterFire installation in Providence, RI, that includes 100 bonfires on the city's three downtown rivers. Evans will discuss the relevance of WaterFire-which has attracted over ten million visitors, bringing life to downtown Providence-in context of Syracuse's ongoing revitalization efforts.

The Art-in-Motion partners hope to bring together an audience comprised of people from different sectors of Central New York-including business, higher education, the arts, and government, and from across 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 US," says Jan Cohen-Cruz, IA 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 (NYCH) grant. Funding for the final collaborative performance comes from a Chancellor Leadership Project grant, initiated by SU President and Chancellor Nancy Cantor.

Citywide performance in September

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 Class will assist and participate while learning about the community.

For more on the first conversation or to RSVP, email vadelpra@syr.edu or call 443-8590. For more on the featured artist, visit Barnaby Evans website at: waterfire.org/about-waterfire/welcome

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