ASI empowers artists through funding, education and connections

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Over the past two years, Art Services Incorporated, or ASI, has awarded artists in Western New York more than $600,000 in grants to pursue career opportunities.

“We provide funding, professional development, and really help them and give them tools that will help them succeed,” said AIS chief executive Jen Swan-Kilpatrick.

Aitina Fareed-Cooke is just one of more than 500 artists that ASI supports throughout the year.

Fareed-Cooke created a spoken word video “Tales from the Porch” to inspire the next generation to use their voice, talent and skills for good.

“I use art as a language, and my goal is to use that language and speak to multiple generations, multiple communities and say, look, this is how I started. this is my story, and you have the power to create yours,” said Fareed Cooke, who founded media group Get Fokus’d Productions.

Fareed-Cooke has partnered with Art Services Inc. to develop programs for young people in Western New York by creating community art events and securing funding for its projects.

“They walked us step by step through the process and what we needed to do and what we needed to do through the process,” Fareed-Cooke said.

The film shows the impact of the pandemic and Tops’ mass shooting on Buffalo’s minority community.

On Wednesday, August 31, Fareed-Cooke and the Crusader Assembly of Christ held a back-to-school event on Glenwood Avenue where neighbors listened to artists’ stories. Fareed-Cooke even performed one of his songs.

The event also distributed 300 backpacks full of school supplies to local students.

“I wouldn’t be able to do this job at the capacity I do without them, and I’m so grateful,” Fareed-Cooke said.

If you want to connect to AIS, you can visit their website.

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