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Arts councils face challenging times

By Joyce Kryszak


Buffalo, NY – The Cattaraugus Arts Council enjoys a good reputation in the Southern Tier for supporting and promoting local artists. But the scandal with the Buffalo and Erie County Arts Council could threaten that.

Earlier this month, the executive director of the Buffalo Arts Council pleaded guilty to stealing roughly $25,000 from the organization. The scandal surrounding Celeste Lawson hit the already struggling arts council hard. And the negative effects don't stop there.

Anne Conroy Baiter is executive director for the Cattaraugus Arts Council. Conroy Baiter said she does hear comments, although she said most of it is teasing.

he said it does make her think twice about what she projects when she approaches supporters for donations. The Arts Council depends largely on private donations to augment state funding. She worries that those private dollars could drop at the worst possible time.

The governor's budget calls for a 40 percent cut to the New York State Council for the Arts. The organization disperses state funds to local councils. And Conroy Baiter said those cuts would not just hurt council administrations. She said the decentralization funding supports everything from libraries to orchestras.

She said that is why she is working even harder to make sure supporters know that the Cattauraugus Arts Council is run squeaky clean.