Buffalo Center for Arts & Technology (BCAT) is taking its mission beyond its walls to reach into community to give a hand up.  The idea was first conceived during the COVID-19 crisis where data show significant increases in depression, anxiety, anger and sadly, suicide rates among youth.  But now with the widespread unrest due to the horrific killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, BCAT feels a greater urgent need to support inner-city youth.  “There hasn’t been a greater need or time for us to move our mission into community and provide inspiration for our youth in our community during these troubling times,” shares Gina Burkhardt, president and CEO of BCAT. “We are passionate and ready to do so.”

Over 70 individuals, more than half of whom have never donated to BCAT prior, have stepped up quickly to underwrite 100 art kits which are being delivered to high school age students living in the city of Buffalo.  Some are from the worst-hit zip codes, both from COVID-19 and the peaceful and sometimes violent unrest.  “Working with community partners, we are identifying students who are in need of inspiration and loving support,” states Catherine Lewis, CEO of LEWAC Associates and a member of BCAT’s board of directors, who is assisting with the initiative.

A small group of youth has already received art kits; their stories are emotional.  “Many are taking care of their siblings while their parents work,” shares Burkhardt. “We can’t wait to get these kits in the hands of more.”

That is happening on Tuesday, June 9th at BCAT’s center at 1221 Main Street at 10:30 AM. 

Young adults living in the City of Buffalo completed a simple registration form which included a pledge to create a unique art piece which will be delivered to the donor who sponsored their art kit. The art kit and its components remain with the youth so they can continue to use creativity to bring them inspiration. 

“We live by the words “Come in…find inspiration”, shares Burkhardt.  “For these young adults to step into our mission and gain a sense of support, accomplishment, and pride, is beyond words….it is why we do what we do, and why we exist.”

Readers can follow BCAT on their social media (FB, IG, Twitter @bufcat716)/subscribe to their email list for regular project updates. They will be hosting an online gallery of all the finished works/info about the artists on their pages during July. And, if people want to learn more about BCAT or support their work, our website is available at bufcat.org.