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County Funding to Studio Arena Cut in 2006

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Hidden among the hundreds of pages in the recently-released 2006 county budget is the fact that one of this area's biggest cultural institutions, the Studio Arena Theatre, is losing its county funding.

Most of the area's cultural groups lost their county funding because of this year's budget crisis. But the county's biggest culturals, such as the Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Studio Arena, retained their funding. The Studio Arena received $200,000 this year. But in the 2006 county budget, the theatre's director, Ken Neufeld, says he's been told the Studio Arena losing that.

"They essentially said the Studio Arena -- 41-year-old organization that attracts 100,000 people a year -- was not a significant enough cultural entity in our community," Neufeld said. "They said it didn't play into the county's cultural tourism mandate."

Neufeld says he's puzzled by this decision. He says the Studio Arena does a lot for the community in raising its profile. He says September's production of the critically-acclaimed "Ring of Fire" is just the latest example. For now, Neufeld said he's asking the County Legislature to restore their funding.

"We would like the Legislature to change the allocation for cultural funding," Nuefeld said. "There are now five organizations that are being funded by the county. Some of those organizations are receiving significant increases in funding."

Neufeld said the county should have given the Studio Arena more notice that their funding was being eliminated so that they would have had more time to make up the difference.