Spotlight / Buffalo Humanities Festival

Buffalo Humanities festival, "Renaissance Remix" takes place September 22–24


Buffalo is experiencing growth in almost every direction, perhaps most prominently in Canalside and downtown. That’s why the Buffalo Humanities Festival took the idea of rebirth as a theme for its third annual event taking place September 22-24.


Renaissance Remix ended up being the perfect theme to do this year,” says Elizabeth Otto, the executive director of the University at Buffalo’s Humanities Institute. As Otto explains, underlying questions behind this theme include: what does it take to make a renaissance, what really is a renaissance, and who does a rennaissance impact? 


Dava Sobel is the keynote speaker at this year’s Buffalo Humanities Festival

Images courtesy of Dava Sobel and the Humanities Institute


“We always look for a theme that has intellectual heft, so that we can really engage the public with exciting ideas,” adds Otto. “But we need a fair amount of breadth as well, since we always want to draw together a wide array of speakers on a topic.” Among this year’s speakers is Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter, who will be doing the keynote talk on September 23. Sobel will be introduced by Mayor Byron Brown. Additional speakers during the two-day festival include Michael Niman, Jane Fisher, Phillip and Emma Collington, and others. 


Renaissance Remix will incorporate Buffalo’s recent change, as well as general renaissance-related topics (including talks on one of the giants of the literary renaissance, William Shakespeare).


“Like many Rust Belt cities, we’re getting a lot of things right in our revival, but the cycles of poverty and systematized racism that are in place mean that we’re not lifting up all the boats,” Otto notes. “This dialogue is an opportunity for people to come together and talk through ideas for how we can do better.”


Most of the festival programming takes place on the Buffalo State College campus, in Ketchum Hall, and the Burchfield Penney auditorium, with some events happening at the Albright-Knox and the downtown library. In addition to speakers, interactive events include dance lessons, public-art projects for young people, and pop-up singing and theater performances. There is also a series of short, experimental films, curated by Sarah Kolberg.


Join the Buffalo Humanities festival as it celebrates the revival of the city of good neighbors and explores how to make that revival even more effective. Participating organizations and institutions include the University at Buffalo, Canisius College, Buffalo State College, Niagara University, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Shakespeare in Delaware Park, and others. 


The festival takes place September 22–24. Call 645-2592 or visit for tickets and information.                      



Adrian Leuthauser is a 2016 intern at Spree.

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