Meetings Today spoke with Institute for Music Leadership Director James Doser to uncover how art and music are central to the ongoing revitalization of Rochester, New York. The Insitute of Music Leadership program is part of University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music.

1. How does art and music define the Rochester experience?

Rochester is defined by the historical, present and future intersection of the arts with the technology and the creative sectors.

George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak and the Eastman School of Music, invented and produced the gold standard for movie film (still Quentin Tarantino’s preferred media).

He also built the Eastman Theater, where silent films accompanied by live music were presented, The Eastman School’s Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media now prepares composers for today’s film and game industries.

That art/technology through-line is undeniably present in Rochester’s creative arts, technology, innovation and educational sectors.

2. What role does art play in the city’s ongoing revitalization and renaissance?

City stakeholders, including neighborhood organizations, business leaders, government, artists and arts organizations, and higher education, have invested significant resources and passion into revitalization efforts through the creative sector.

From public art and placemaking to major projects like ROC the Riverway, Play Walk, ROCMusic, Gateways Music Festival and the city’s 2034 Comprehensive Plan, the arts have become the thread that connects and spurs innovation.

This is evident in both the activities and amenities in the city and region, but perhaps more importantly, in the way that creative thinking and artistic perspective is applied to community, business and municipal activity.

3. What venues and experiences would you recommend to meeting and event planners and their clients looking to connect with the artistic and musical soul of the city?

Rochester punches above its weight class with world-class arts.

Large organizations include:

  • Geva Theatre Center
  • Eastman School of Music
  • Garth Fagan Dance
  • Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
  • George Eastman Museum
  • Memorial Art Gallery
  • The Strong Museum

Smaller organizations include the Rochester Contemporary Arts Center, Blackfriars Theatre, UUU Art Collective and Flower City Arts, with individual artist clusters at Anderson Alley, Neighborhood of the Arts, Village Gate Square and in our neighborhoods.

Arts festivals happen nearly every weekend in the spring, summer and fall (and even some in the winter), including the Rochester International Jazz Festival, Fringe Fest, Corn Hill, Park Avenue, Clothesline and Lilac Festivals. The list goes on and on.

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