After eight years of serving as founding president of ASI’s Board of Directors, Randy Kramer is passing the torch to Vice President Broderick Cason. The transition marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for ASI as it evolves from budding nonprofit to established organization with both a regional and state-wide reach.
“I couldn’t be prouder of everything ASI has accomplished over the last eight years, and I couldn’t be leaving the Board in better hands,” Randy said.
Randy has been a dedicated member of ASI since before its inception. When the region’s previous arts council had to close in 2008, he and his fellow founders saw the need for an organization that would fill its void while pushing the boundaries of what an arts council could achieve even further. “We all felt that we had a shot at creating something fresh that could administer to the needs of arts and culture organizations throughout Western New York,” he said.
Originally, ASI was formed out of the practical and immediate need for a local organization to distribute DEC funding from the New York State Council on the Arts to regional artists, but over the years, Randy has watched as the nonprofit began to support Western New York’s culture sector in ways he hadn’t imagined. Today, ASI’s programming includes many additional grants opportunities, free professional development seminars, financial services and a fiscal sponsorship program, an annual awards ceremony celebrating exceptional individuals and organizations in the arts and culture sector, and much more.
Under Randy’s leadership, ASI has become known throughout the region as a resource center serving not just artists, but organizations as well. When Canalside was in early stages of development, for instance, ASI was approached by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation to advise on arts programming that would help attract county residents to the waterfront. “ASI quickly became a resource hub for other organizations,” he said, “and not just for individual artists in need of grant funding.”
Randy, who has been involved in Western New York’s arts and culture sector more than 15 years, has brought a great wealth of grassroots experience and knowledge of the arts community to his leadership at ASI. He is the founder and director of MusicalFare Theatre, one of the founders of the Greater Buffalo Cultural Alliance, and was the first president of the Theatre Alliance of Buffalo.
As ASI moves forward, Randy’s hope is that the organization continues to find new and more impactful ways to support the arts community, and that more artists and arts organizations become familiar with and take advantage of the nonprofit’s programs and services. These services – spanning funding, advocacy, health insurance, and more – are often the crucial resource for artists and arts organizations toward taking their careers to the next level and reaching self-sustainability. “Way too many people in the community aren’t aware of what ASI offers and the impact it makes,” he said. “Expanding our reach through marketing initiatives is integral to the future of the organization.”
Looking to the future, Randy is excited for Broderick to continue leading ASI in that direction. “He’s the best next step for the organization to grow and prosper,” he said. “And again, why grow and prosper? Because ASI needs to have an even greater impact on the cultural community.”
Broderick, who previously served as the Board’s vice president and secretary, draws on a background of working in the health insurance industry, as well as in the arts and culture sector through his involvement in Shea’s Performing Arts Center.
“My vision for ASI is that we become a more well-rounded brand that is recognized as a trusted convener for individual artists and culture organizations,” Broderick said. “Our team will continue its efforts to diversify the Board with contributory skills and expertise, background and ethnicity, and opportunities to grow our fiscal strength. As we prepare for the future, ASI begins a new phase that transcends from startup organization to one that is the true interface of business and culture.”
(Photo: ASI Executive Director Jen Swan and Board Vice President Broderick Cason honor President Randy Kramer with a Chuck Tingley painting at the 2019 Spark Awards. Credit: Onion Studio, Inc.)