Barry Kornhauser is the Assistant Director of Campus & Community Engagement at the Office of Visual and Performing Arts, as well as a playwright with productions currently being performed in Minneapolis, as well as internationally all the way to Australia. He contributes time to various programs at Millersville University that change the lives of many of Lancaster’s younger residents. This year, at the 2017 Governor’s Awards for the Arts, he was given the Artist of the Year Award for his endeavors.
For his continuing efforts, Pennsylvania’s governor, Tom Wolf, gave Barry Kornhauser the award. He is the first to receive the award in Lancaster, and it was the first time that such an award ceremony was hosted by Lancaster. Barry Kornhauser explained that, “The award happening in Lancaster made it special for me because this is the place I call home.”
Many programs are set up in the Ware Center, which is an extension of Millersville University in the center of Lancaster, and involve the local community in artistic efforts. These programs are especially for the children of Lancaster, including Studio for Students in which imaginative art is displayed throughout the Ware Center and shown on Lancaster’s special days, such as the First Friday of Month celebration. It becomes a fundraiser for scholarships to get kids to go college who lack the money.
One major program Barry Kornhauser is in charge of is the M-Youth Theater. The name pokes fun at the Millersville University abbreviation. He has been running this program for over 30 years. M-Youth Theater is for teens and young adults for social justice. Kornhauser states, “[It is] work to reach marginalized populations, and try to engage them through the arts, which can help build their life skills. Make their life more rich, [have them be] participants in the cultural life of their communities.” The M-Youth theater program did something unique this season by having a solo art auction, in which it showcased the art of a student with autism. The event was so successful it was noticed by another non-profit charity, the Emerald Foundation, which reshowed the art at their facility in Lancaster. The M-Youth Theater program was honored in Washington DC at the White House in 2008, and presided over by the First Lady.
Every year another program occurs, called Disability Arts, where they have artists with disabilities perform. This season, they had Ramesh Meyyappan, who is a death theater artist. These events are meant to empower individuals with disabilites, and Barry Kornhauser explained that he hopes viewers that do not have such disabilities can witness the talents and exclaim, “Oh, disability is not an obstacle, disability is a catalyst for creativity.”
There is a lot of merit in Barry Kornhauser’s work in Lancaster. He explained with a chuckle that the programs he works on and presides over keeps him busy, and is still plans to keep it that way.