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Smaller Culturals to Get Some Erie County Funds

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – There was a heavy sigh of relief when at least the six largest culturals in Erie County received funding for 2006. But for about forty smaller groups, it was the second year of being zeroed out of the county budget. Tuesday, the ccounty Cultural Resources Addvisory Board announced $100,000 of surprise funding for the smaller groups.

The extra money was tucked away under the cultural development and marketing budget line. The money will now provide a much appreciated boost - if not exactly a windfall for the abandoned groups.

They will get about 11 percent of what was originally expected before the budget cuts. Linda Grant is director of the county's department of arts, culture and tourism. Grant said it is uncertain how much the groups can expect in future years.

"We're thinking of taking completely different directions, but too much is up in the air right now," said Grant. " But a lot will depend on how much money we do have in the long run."

For now, the county's four-year plan earmarks at least as much as groups will receive this year. Officials said the application process is still being defined. Hal Payne Chairs the Cultural Resources Advisory Board. He said that the criteria will stay about the same as in years past, however, overall impact and collaborations will also be factors.

"Where we see organizations are creating efficiencies and becoming more effective in spreading the message of culture through the county, we certainly would take their collaborative effort into account," said Payne.

The Just Buffalo Literary Center is one of the groups that has already done that. They share space and administrative support with CEPA and Big Orbit. Mike Kelleher with Just Buffalo said there is a great deal of anxiety in the arts community about how future funding will be decided.

Kelleher said they hope the success of their collaboration doesn't work against them.

"You say we're dying for money and then you look weak, and then the funders don't like organizations that look weak," said Kelleher. "But, then if you say that you have survived then you look strong and it proves that you didn't need the money anyway. So, its's kind of a double-edged word."

Applications for the 2007 funding cycle are due June 5. Officials said the money announced Tuesday should be sent out to qualifying organizations by August or September.