Tonawandas Arts Scene Lights Up Western New York

April 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm EST


North Tonawanda is bursting with arts activity. For plays and concerts, there's the historic and ornate Riviera Theatre, which boasts of the few remaining Wurlitzer pipe organs. For national art shows, as well as children's art classes, there's the Carnegie Arts Center, housed in the old city library building. North Tonawanda is also home to several arts and crafts studios and galleries, most of which have sprung up along Webster Street near the Riviera. Just a few minutes north of the Tonawandas area and across the Canadian border lies Niagara on the Lake, a quaint, tourist-friendly town that hosts the annual Shaw Festival, named after playwright George Bernard Shaw. The festival runs from April through November, and the 2005 season includes plays and musicals by a range of artists from Shaw himself to Stephen Sondheim to W. Somerset Maugham. North Tonawanda's close proximity to Buffalo means access to all the arts and culture opportunities a big city has to offer, such as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, which boasts one of the finest collections of modern and contemporary art anywhere in the world. Its collection includes works by Modigliani, Cezanne, and Picasso. Also in Buffalo is the legendary Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, now located in the former Asbury Delaware Church in downtown Buffalo. The center continues to challenge viewers with its diverse and provocative pieces.

Music to the Ears

Tonawanda Gateway Harbor Park, for example, hosts the Concert on the Canal Series; three free concerts per week during the summer, on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The park, which sits at the junction of the Erie Canal and the Niagara River, is the perfect setting for the summer series, which runs from June 22 through September 3. Niawanda Park, also in Tonawanda, holds an annual "Art on the Riverwalk" fine arts show in the summer.

Haven't Had Enough?

And if North Tonawanda area residents need even more fine and performing arts to satisfy their cultural craving, Toronto is only a 90-minute drive away. Whether a live musical performance, a juried art show or a gallery tour, the arts are always 'on' in Ken-Ton. In fact, the village of Kenmore/Town of Tonawanda area is part of a thriving arts community that stretches across western New York and even into Canada.

Reader Comments Use a Facebook account to comment. Subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment.