Buffalo, NY – The recent Erie County funding cuts created an even stronger unity among cultural groups. In fact, some of the so-called "Big Ten" groups that received funding are lending a hand to raise money for smaller unfunded groups.
Wednesday's concert will not be the first time the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Musicalfare Theatre have worked together. But it is the first time so much has been at stake.
Musicalfare is among roughly three dozen cultural groups cut out of this year's Erie County budget. The survival of the theatre and the other groups could very well depend on the success of "Give 4 Greatness" fundraising events such as the one Wednesday night. BPO Conductor Paul Ferington said they want to fill the entire 2,800-seat house.
"Folks can sit anywhere in Kleinhans that they want. They can go to the top row of the balcony if they want or they can sit in the front row to hear the two-time Grammy-award winning Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra," said Ferington. "We're, of course, in our 75th year and we want to ensure that other cultural groups and Western New York have the same chance at legacy that we do."
To attract as many people and donations as possible, tickets are priced at an unbelievably low price - five dollars. Mucialfare Executive Director Randy Kramer said anything and everything is getting tossed into the hat.
"It's a free will donation so if somebody can't afford the five dollars they can walk in and not pay anything, or if they can afford a lot more, they can certainly pay a lot more," said Kramer. "All of the money is going to the "Give 4 Greatness" and all of that money gets dispersed to the over 30 cultural organizations that were zeroed out by the county in 2011."
And Kramer said audiences will get plenty of entertainment in exchange for their generosity. The hour and a half long program features some of the area's most talented performers delivering some tried and true favorites.
"There will be a medley from Fiddler on the Roof, a medley from Carousel and there will also be a medley from Chorus Line...so, people will really get a full-range of music all associated with the theatre," said Kramer.
Oh, and let's not forget those Grammy-award winning philharmonic musicians. Conductor Ferington said it usually costs much more to hear these talented professionals. But Ferington said nobody is looking for personal profit.
"The musicians are not being paid any extra for this at all. None of the performers are being paid. I'm certainly not being paid. We have kept the budget very minimal...so, this is an opportunity for us to really ensure that the resources that we need go to these culturals that have not been funded," said Ferington.
But Ferington said the concert hopes to accomplish more than merely raise money. He said they want to raise awareness and celebrate the importance of what the arts do for the quality of life in Western New York.
"It's a celebration of our legacy of arts. It's a celebration of how important the arts are to all of us, to our mental well-being to our physical well-being," said Ferington. "And, the fact that we really should not be taking arts organizations for granted."
He added, "It's these types of organizations that bring business, they bring industry, they bring tourism. The arts are revenue-generating organizations. And we just need to get more people to understand that these are an important facet of our Western New York economy."
Donations will be taken at the door for tonight's concert at Kleinhans Music Hall that begins at 7:00 PM. More information is available at the Give 4 Greatness.