Campaign for Accessible Adventurous Sound in Buffalo

null point campaign aasb

Top left: Creative Soundmaking with Paper Workshop at the WASH Project; Top Right: Creative Soundmaking and Architecture Workshop at the Old First Ward Community Center with (pictured: teaching artist Esin Gündüz, R); Bottom: David Dunn, PLACE, a day-long outdoor site-responsive performance, at Artpark (pictured artists, L to R: Jessie Downs, Bob Fullex, Sarah Hennies, Megan Kyle, Jonathan Hepfer)

Campaign for Accessible Adventurous Sound in Buffalo

Null Point’s mission is 1. to facilitate the creation and presentation of new concert music and sound art, and 2. to be as socially inclusive as possible in this endeavor, engaging a broad public as both audiences and artists. We do not see these goals as being mutually exclusive, and we believe that art, particularly in its most adventurous and challenging forms, belongs to everyone. Towards this end, we aim to create inclusive, supportive environments where work by artists emerging, overlooked, and established can be shared with diverse, welcoming audiences.

Artistic Priorities

We approach music and sound art as fundamentally live, embodied, and collective activities, and seek out works that encourage heightened awareness of the material realities of listening and performing through site-specificity, participation and exploring perceptual and performative limit situations (of audibility, density, emptiness, speed, etc.). A null point is a location where vector fields like magnetic fields have zero strength, where fields cancel each other out: we hope to cultivate a collective intensity of concentration that creates a productive, liberating emptiness. Our events often focus on ambitious pieces that foster an almost Utopian sense of possibility, pieces often neglected by mainstream arts institutions: a vocal solo featuring an acrobatic rapid-fire montage of extended techniques; chamber music that centers extremely quiet, fragile sounds, encouraging hair-trigger concentration from both performers and listeners; a participatory event exploring how pieces of paper can make sounds of surprising variety and nuance; percussion works that activate reverberations and echoes in the massive interior of a grain silo; and a day-long piece that exhaustively investigates different ways music can relate to an outdoor place (premiered by us 42 years after its composition). In our three years of existence, the ambition and originality of our projects has been recognized through grants from New Music USA, the arts councils of New York, Western New York, and Toronto, and universities across the US and Canada, and through invitations to perform in respected arts venues like Artpark, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Constellation Chicago, and Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center (where we regularly hold concerts).

Accessibility and Inclusion in Programming

To make our programming accessible, we proactively build relationships with audiences and artists beyond our usual professional and social “bubbles” through free events in community centers and public spaces, canvasses giving away free event tickets in underserved neighborhoods, open calls for work, active artist research, emphasis on work by artists from traditionally marginalized social positions (including but not limited to artists of color; queer, working class, differently-able, and non-male artists) and more. It is especially important to us to develop programming suitable for a particular situations—we aim not to parachute “great works of art” into underserved areas but to share the possibilities of our artform with a diverse public, in hope that people will be inspired to take ownership of it and, in doing so, become more radically themselves.

Where your Contribution goes

Producing music and sound art is an incredibly detail-oriented form of skilled work. Our concerts usually involve 2-10 musicians in 5-20 hours of group rehearsal, in addition to many more hours of individual practice, technological preparation, material/instrument procurement, publicity, grant writing, booking, programming research, program essay writing, and more. Preparing educational programs is slightly less time intensive, but otherwise we approach with the same motivation and meticulousness as our other programming; we greatly enjoy teaching! It is our ideal to cover 100% of costs through donations, sponsorships, grants, and partnerships, enabling us to produce events with free entry for everyone.

Your contribution goes primarily to paying performing artists for concerts and educational events. We keep overhead extremely low, with a small portion of revenues going to pay our tireless curatorial/administrative team (who are in charge of curation, rehearsal supervision, program essay writing, communications/publicity, booking, grant writing, partnership building, web design, documentation/archives, technical direction, and more) and to cover expenses associated with publicity, documentation, and materials. Through an extensive network of partnerships, we have never paid for office, rehearsal, or storage space, and pay only rarely, and at ultra-discount rates, for performance space and instrument/equipment rental. We also frequently partner with local universities and arts institutions to lower the costs of presenting guest artists from out of town.

Your Contribution at Work

$100-200 will fund a free workshop introducing working class children, many of them refugees, to the performance and composition of exploratory music at the WASH Project, a community services center housed in a laundromat on Buffalo’s west side. As public education is further decimated in the city of Buffalo, programming like this is essential to these children’s development and well-being. Scientific studies confirm that participation in music making increases neural activity, improves learning abilities and memory recall, develops language processing, aids listening abilities, and improves spatial intelligence and fine motor abilities.

$400-800 will fund a small ensemble concert, featuring hot-off-the-press works by emerging composers as well as overlooked works. The event will be free and open to the public and will be sited in an accessible location, near public transportation. Artists from WNY as well as from afar will be represented, as will artists from traditionally marginalized social positions and artists who are self-taught and/or institutionally under-recognized. Works programmed will engage audience members in unusually participatory listening processes, and/or participatory soundmaking activities that assume no prior musical background. The concert will close with an informal Q&A with the artists.

How to Contribute

To contribute, you may use a credit card via I-World Fundraising, or you may write a check to “Arts Services Initiative of Western New York,” noting in the memo line that the contribution is for Null Point, and mail it to them at 95 Perry St., Buffalo, NY.