Before summer passes by in a flash, be sure to take advantage of outstanding free arts and cultural events in Western New York. You’ll find plenty of choices. Here are a few of my favorites.
Live Music: Free concerts are among the true joys of summer in the Buffalo area. If you work downtown, or can visit on a weekday, plan lunch around the M&T Plaza Event Series (Main at Division Streets). With eclectic performances summer weekdays through August at noon, the plaza is the lunchtime gathering spot. Brown-bag it (or check out the growing street cart options) -- and enjoy the people watching!
- Shakespeare In Delaware Park: The popular romantic comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” continues Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m. until Aug. 19.
Not a Shakespeare fan? Go for the experience of live outdoor theater in an idyllic setting overlooking Hoyt Lake in an Olmsted-designed park. Bring a picnic basket of goodies and some crisp fruity wine and drink it all in – slowly. (They do pass the hat for this, but it’s well worth it!)
- Burchfield-Penney Art Center: Located on the Buffalo State campus (1300 Elmwood Ave.), this distinctively local museum offers free general admission from 4 to 8 p.m. on M&T Second Fridays. The next two dates are Aug. 10 and Sept. 14. The BPAC is dedicated to the art and artists of Western New York -- notably famed watercolorist Charles E. Burchfield. In any season, his work inspires you to appreciate the wild reality of our Buffalo-area weather.
- Buffalo City Hall guided tours: Buffalo Tours offers a fun and revealing look at this art deco masterwork (65 Niagara Square) weekdays at noon (except holidays). Inside and out, Buffalo’s seat of government is packed with architectural detail, murals, carved friezes and symbolism. Highlights include the sunburst skylight in the City Council Chambers and 360-degree views from the 28th-floor observation deck.
- The PBS Arts Summer Festival: Now in full swing on Monday nights, you don’t even have to drive anywhere for this one -- just tune your TV to WNED-TV. It’s like having the best seats in the house for top-notch music, art and cultural events from around the world -- for free!
- “The Barnes Collection” (Aug. 13 at 10 p.m. on WNED-TV) shares the behind-the-scenes story of a new art museum in Philadelphia and the visionary man who collected its paintings by some of history’s most famous artists — Picasso, Matisse, Renoir and more.
Tune in Monday, Aug. 13 at 10 p.m. to WNED-TV.
“GREAT PERFORMANCES: Tanglewood’s 75th Anniversary Celebration” (Aug. 20 at 9 p.m. on WNED-TV): From the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, sit back and savor fan favorites from Beethoven, Bernstein, Copland and more. Highlights include performances by renown cellist Yo-Yo Ma and James Taylor (yes, the “Sweet Baby James” folk singer), who happens to live in the Berkshires.
Tune in Monday, Aug. 20 at 9 p.m. to WNED-TV.
If these experiences inspire the artist in you, be sure to visit PBSArts.org to explore the creative process and post your own works of art. What’s your favorite summertime event in the Buffalo area? What inspires the artist in you?