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Payola Settlement Pays Big for Area Arts Groups

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's payola settlement will pay for a lot of playing at several local arts organizations.

The New York State Music Fund was born out of a landmark settlement won by Spitzer from major recording companies. The companies were investigated for violating laws against "pay for play," better known as payola.

The settlement was bad news for record companies. But it turns out to be really good news for 218 arts groups in the state that will share $19 million from the second round of grants.

Ten groups in Western New York and the Southern Tier will get more than three quarters of a million dollars of that.

Just Buffalo Literary Center was awarded $70,000. Executive Director Laurie Dean Torrell said the grant was very competitive and very welcome.

The idea behind the fund was to make contemporary music more available and accessible to diverse audiences. Dean Torrell says the Just Buffalo Literary Center qualified for its unique programs that meld the spoken word and music.

Some of the other local groups that were awarded grants include , Muse, Musicians United for Superior Education the Chautuaqua Arts Council and the Albright Knox Art Gallery for its World Music Live program.

The Community Action Organization of Erie County received the highest local grant, with a $125,000 awarded to fund its Music is Critical program.