Approved county budget restore funds to smaller arts and cultural groups

Dec 7, 2011

The Erie County Legislature approved the 2012 County budget and it restores funding to many smaller cultural and arts agencies.

The spending plan restores more than $900,000 to smaller arts organizations, including area theatres, galleries and other cultural organizations.  Funding to those groups had been cut by outgoing Erie County Executive Chris Collins in favor of dedicating resources to what he had identified as 10 regionally significant organizations.  

County Executive-elect Mark Poloncarz has long supported broad-based cultural funding and said he's pleased with yesterday's budget amendments.

"I do not like the original proposal that the executive came up with, I think we all know about that, but this budget was able to address those matters as legislator Whyte noted  on the floor, there's a number of items that could be adjusted by the Legislature today with regards to federal and state reimbursements for 100% grant funded jobs.  I will be seeking is grant funds will be making those reimbursements throughout the year," said Poloncarz.

Collins issued a written statement saying he has no plans to veto the changes.  In fact, the budget had near unanimous legislative support.  

Republican Dino Fudoli cast the lone dissenting ballot in the 13-1 vote.   He said the culturals left out of Collins' budget proved that they were capable of finding replacement funds from the private sector.

"If my business is failing I don't go to the government asked him for money it just goes out of business so maybe we have to many cultures, maybe there needs to be some, consolidation. They don't have any problem with the culture was as we continue to artificially prop them up with government money they're never going to reach that consolidation point maybe they need to band together and work together in collaboration raise the money raised the revenues on the road and survive," said Fudoli.

Executive Director of Arts Services Initiative of Western New York Tod Kniazuk said the restored funding will help create jobs within the arts and will in turn will bring people from out of town to enjoy them.

"Can you imagine a community without our culture? Of course you can't. We're a good investment, we're a safe investment, we don't going any where.  It's not like were are a company where five years later were gonna say give us even more money or were going to leave the area.  We're going to be here.  It's not like anyone is packing up and moving a museum," said Kniazuk.  

In addition to the cultural funding, lawmakers also restored jobs to the county library system.