humanities 1There’s a lot of excitement around Buffalo’s renaissance, which seems to be in full bloom. But does everyone benefit when ideas and economies are reborn? The 2016 Buffalo Humanities Festival will give a new spin to the idea of renaissance. “We want to inspire critical conversations,” says Festival Director Erik Seeman. “What can we learn from history? What can we do better? Why does the idea of rebirth get people excited?”

Now in its third year, the Festival draws on Buffalo’s rich academic and cultural traditions to engage pressing questions of our time, raising the level of community discourse in Western New York in a setting that is lively and fun.

Funding from the Oishei Foundation helped the Festival get off the ground, and continues to make it possible to create awareness of the event and draw people in. Erik was thrilled to connect with Oishei’s Paul Hogan when the Humanities Festival was simply an idea. “Paul encouraged us to ‘think big’—he offered personal and professional connections, enthusiasm and encouragement. Oishei’s support has been absolutely crucial to our success.”

stories humanities2The Festival’s goals include encouraging civic dialogue, raising questions and revealing multiple perspectives on a topic. “It’s not hard to find people who are curious,” says Erik, “who are looking for ideas.” They’ll find ideas and more this September, during three days of talks, performances, discussions, and food, while examining rebirth, renewal, and resurgence from the 15th century European Renaissance through the Harlem Renaissance to today.

Erik is a Professor of History at UB and Director of the university’s Humanities Institute. In addition to UB, the Festival’s partners include Canisius College, Niagara University and Buffalo State College. Events take place at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Burchfield Penney Art Center, and Buffalo State College campus.