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Mr. Collins, leave cultural funding alone

The fact that cultural funding is one of the few areas where the county has power over its spending is not a sufficient reason to snatch away the small but powerful amounts that should be allocated to our arts organizations. It’s just stupid. There is no other way to characterize it.

In a recent Buffalo News article, our county executive’s team says they will only fund the 10 organizations best able to draw visitors from outside the county. Right. I have to doubt they have a clue of which organizations those might be, given that their list of 10 excludes such venues as Explore and More, the only museum dedicated to children within 75 miles; Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, an internationally-known center for cutting edge art forms that is now part of the highly popular Beyond/In extravaganza; and Shakespeare in the Park, the nation’s second largest Shakespeare festival. Not to mention that they plan no funding for any theaters whatsoever. Really?

The money that would have been allocated to cultural organizations (other than the favored 10) is quite small—negligible in the grandiose panorama of the larger county spending picture. But as we all point out—because it is true—those small four and five-figure grants to smaller organizations fund jobs, house families, pay for educational programming, and, most important, make it possible to raise much more.

In my opinion, the county owes these organizations a token amount of support on principle alone. Our thrifty culturals—who create so much out of so little—are shining examples of how to most efficiently use resources. Maybe that’s why a report extolling the economic benefit of the arts in Greater Buffalo is on the Erie County website.

Someone in County Hall should read it.

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