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Faculty, Alumnus to Receive Spark Cultural Awards

Faculty, Alumnus to Receive Spark Cultural Awards

Posted: May 18, 2015

The Arts Services Initiative (ASI) of Western New York has selected Gerald Mead, lecturer of design, and Tom Calderone, ’86, president of  TV cable network VH1, as recipients of its “Spark” cultural awards.

Mead will receive the "Unsung Hero" award, while Calderone will be named "Cultural Ambassador for Western New York" during ASI's “Celebrating Those Who Ignite Arts and Culture” awards luncheon, Wednesday, May 20, at 5:30 p.m. at the Hotel at the Lafayette.

ASI, a regional organization charged with capacity building, collaboration, and advocacy for the area’s cultural sector, is presenting eight awards to individuals and organizations.

Mead, an avid art collector and longtime former curator of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, will be recognized for his extensive volunteerism and support of the arts for more than 25 years. His contributions include serving on boards and art committees for several cultural organizations and his work as a guest curator and patron of the arts. In addition to teaching at Buffalo State, Mead is a frequent artist-in-residence in schools and mentors numerous emerging artists. He also has served as a grants reviewer for the New York State Council for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

“It has been my distinct pleasure to have interacted with so many arts organizations and individual artists for years,” Mead said. “Many talents in the region have made us so culturally rich, and I am very pleased to be part of that vibrant community.”

Susan Przybyl, executive director of the Kenan Center in Lockport, nominated Mead. In her nomination, Przybyl wrote, “Gerald has quite simply devoted his life to the arts and artists of this region through broad-reaching efforts in many facets of the community. Throughout his professional career, he has continually gone beyond the duties of his job to provide a contribution wherever and whenever he can.”

Calderone, who started his media career at Buffalo State radio station WBNY-FM, will be honored for his continuing contributions to Buffalo.

“The cultural ambassador award is new this year,” said ASI executive director Tod Kniazuk. “We wanted to recognize a professional who has built his or her career elsewhere but who, without a doubt, is connected to and promotes Buffalo. In Tom, we have a national figure who has done amazing work, but who also stays connected to Western New York. He set the bar high for others in this category.”

In addition to serving as president of VH1, Calderone directs Classic’s Rock Autism Initiative, a project that raises awareness about autism, and serves as chairman of VH1’s Save the Music Foundation.

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