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Syracuse Stories' Gets Ready: Another Project from Art Across Borders

Soon the CNY Arts Covenant celebrates its first anniversary. Last July the compact among citizens to support local art officially launched Arts Week with performances, speeches and a chance to "sign" the compact with your hand-print on the large Arts Covenant quilt. This year's Arts Week is larger than before. Anchored by the Syracuse Art and Crafts Festival in Columbus Circle and the Northeast Jazz and Wine Festival in Clinton Square, it'll cover the corridor of city blocks between with vendors, street performers and interactive exhibits. On Thursday, July 29 at 10:00 AM, the Arts Covenant will be in the thick of it, back with a new quilt for your signature and after your promise to help local art flourish.

Last Saturday, on the shady side porch of Mary Stanley's west side home, one group looked beyond this year's Arts Week to next summer and something called Syracuse Stories. In the works since last winter, sometimes at the Warehouse Caf (c), sometimes at Strong Hearts Caf (c) on East Genesee, Syracuse Stories has unfurled. In the last week of July 2011, the project will invite ordinary Syracusans from the four quadrants and the Onondaga Nation to tell and listen to their stories in collaboration with two other events: Syracuse University's Say Yes to Education Summer Institute festival in Thorndon Park for 12 City schools, ProLiteracy's planned cultural literacy festival, capped off with a series of "story trails."

Storyteller Vanessa Johnson, an organizer of the State Fair's Pan-African Village, was there, as was Jan Cohen-Cruz, director Imagining America; Rachel Gazdick, director of SU's Say Yes component; Onondaga Nation faith-keeper and artist Wendy Gonyea; retired teacher Becky Jackson, who promotes the arts at Seymour and other West Side schools; Kate Auwaerter, staff for the Syracuse Public Arts Commission; Kelly Curtis, a student from LeMoyne College's CURAR project, which is directed by professor Caroline Tauxe, who, along with several others from CFAC, ArtRage and other organizations, couldn't be there.

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