Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announces $100 million commitment to sustain art and culture centers
More than a dozen prominent Western New York art and cultural institutions will receive significant, steady revenue streams from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, which is committing a total $100 million to help sustain those agencies.
In all, 13 agencies will receive an annual fund of anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 annually. As part of its overall investment, the Foundation will contribute approximately $60 over the next ten years for establishment of an endowment. That endowment, to be overseen by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, will set up the operational funding streams for the following agencies (the dollar amounts are annual):
Albright Knox Gundlach Art Museum, $500,000
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, $500,000
Strong National Museum of Play, $500,000
National Comedy Center, $250,000
Buffalo Museum of Science, $200,000
Buffalo Zoo, $200,000
Explore & More: The Ralph C. Wilson Children’s Museum, $200,000
Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park, $100,000
Buffalo History Museum, $150,000
Burchfield Penney Art Center, $100,000
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House, $100,000
Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor & anchor institutions, $100,000
Shea’s Performing Arts Center, $100,000
Terry Alford, executive director of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, says this investment is a “game changer” for an organization like his. The funding, he suggests, will help them acquire more personnel who, in turn, can work to continue the growth of the Corridor and its anchor entities into an attraction.
“It's an exclusive group of organizations that they selected for this great honor,” Alford said. “For us to be included in that, sort of speaks to not just the momentum, but to the vision that we're trying to instill, and speaks to the transformational change that we're trying to implement for the good of all the people or the citizens in the City of Buffalo.”
David Egner, president and chief executive officer of the Foundation, says they worked with a national consulting firm to measure agencies’ attendance and regional draw, economic impact, financial health, and budget sizes to make their funding decisions.
“No one wants to be without arts and culture, which is why these institutions are so critical,” he said. “They're economic engines in their own right. They have people that come in and buy a ticket, but then buy dinner and have gasoline, and buy hotel rooms, and they generate economic income. Perhaps more importantly, they are talent, attraction and retention machines.”
Egner adds that part of the Foundation’s investment includes the creation of an annual $500,000 fund to which small and medium art and cultural centers may apply for grants. Additionally, $250,000 of annual funding will be used to advance inclusion and access opportunities.