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Arts Grant Will Fund Performing Arts in Buffalo, Niagara Falls Schools

By Kenny Macdonald

Buffalo, NY – The Arts in Education Institute of Western New York has been awarded a $95,000 grant it will use for art programs in the Buffalo and Niagara Falls city school districts.

The money is a share of Eliot Spitzer's $33 million payola settlement against the music industry that he obtained while he was attorney general.

Dancer and choreographer Makeda Thomas and her troupe will kick off the collaboration next month with a dance performance at Niagara Falls High School. She says exposure to the performing arts while she was in school helped propel her into a successful career.

"I really understand and value the role of arts education," Thomas said. "I got into dance through a high school dance program in Brooklyn, New York. It opened up a whole world of opportunities for me.

"I was able to go to college. I was able to start my own company. I was able to tour throughout the world."

Thomas will will also teach a dance class at the Buffalo School for the Performing Arts and will talk about her work at several other city schools.