What's new: Give for greatness
Artvoice editor Jamie Moses gave a fiery speech two years ago at the last awards luncheon held by the now-defunct Arts Council of Buffalo and Erie County. He skewered our local media for not devoting enough space to Western New York’s vibrant arts scene and spoke strongly about the contribution that arts organizations make to our economy—especially when compared to the sports franchises that routinely receive major print and electronic media coverage.
It wasn’t all hot air. In the wake of the County Executive’s devastating refusal to fund forty-seven of WNY’s arts organizations, Moses and others—including M&T Bank and the newly-formed Greater Buffalo Cultural Alliance—are launching a campaign to replace the funding. Entitled Give for Greatness, the two-month campaign is unusually diverse, offering local arts lovers a comprehensive menu of arts support from which to choose.
• For those who think contributing to arts organizations is just for the wealthy, there is a website sponsored by M&T—www.giveforgreatness.org—that will accept anyone’s donation, from $5 to $5,000 and up.
• For those who want to celebrate and donate, there are two months worth of events, with proceeds to go to the cause. April’s calendar features a BPO concert, Sunday speakeasies at Pearl Street Grill, concerts at Nietzsche’s and Sportmen’s Tavern, and a final Cinco de Mayo celebration at the Albright-Knox. The campaign kicked off last month during Artvoice’s annual Mardi Gras parade and party.
• For the shoppers, there will be sales, auctions, and raffles at a wide range of local venues.
Other contributors in the impressive list of organizations and individuals who have signed on to Give for Greatness include the Oishei Foundation, WKBW-Channel 7, the Theater Alliance, NFTA, and Lamar. Cultural organizations such as the BPO and the Albright-Knox, who did receive funding from the county this year, are also helping with the campaign.
For too long, arts funding has been used as a scapegoat and political pawn, bouncing between a series of short-sighted city and county administrations. As Moses said in a recent issue of Artvoice, “We have a county executive who believes government should be run like a business. Which business? Adelphia? Enron? WorldCom? Lehman Brothers? BP? … If every cultural institution goes under, why would anyone want to live here? For the entertainment of the Geico call center? To shovel snow for fun?”
With Give for Greatness, the publisher and longtime arts evangelist plans to put the arts where they belong—on the front page of Western New York’s priorities as the essential element that makes life here worth living.