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Arts & Culture

NYS Assembly commits $5 million to Albright-Knox's AK360 plan

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, which is moving forward with an ambitious expansion plan known as AK360, got a fiscal boost for the project Thursday from members of the New York State Assembly. Speaker Carl Heastie joined local delegates in Buffalo to make the announcement.

Assembly members Robin Schimminger, Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Sean Ryan stood with Heastie to announce that their branch of the State Legislature has committed $5 million toward the AK360 project, which calls for dvelopment of a larger campus and an expansion of its programming. Heastie explained the money will come from dollars available in a capital fund within the state budget.

"There are pots of capital money that within the year that we like, for worthwhile projects like this, to be able to put forward," Heastie said. "So we'll put in our recommendation to the Division of Budget. I believe since the governor is supportive of this project, I think it has a good shot of being OK'd."

The Governor's Office and State Senate have also committed $5 million from their respective capital funds. Last month, The Albright-Knox Art Gallery announced it is receiving its largest-ever one-time private donation. Local native Jeffrey Gundlach's $42.5 million gift will be used to expand the campus. When finished, the cultural center will be renamed the Buffalo Albright-Knox-Gundlach Art Museum.

Heastie, as well as local Assembly members, spoke of the importance of culturals in the community. Janne Sirén, the Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 

"It is important for all of us to remember that a strong arts community serves Buffalo and Western New York in vital ways," Sirén said. "By creating jobs, attracting a young and educated workforce,  by driving tourism and enriching schools, businesses and local government."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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