Small Groups, Big Money: Arts and Culture Organizations Share Pot of New County Funding | Local News

Cemetery restoration work, concert chairs, and stained glass upgrades aren’t the kind of projects that typically receive thousands of dollars from Erie County.

But these are not typical times.

The potential for a recession, a drop in consumer confidence, rising county retirement costs, record spending levels, costly union contracts and other financial pressures are expected to cause the county legislature to curb future cravings for free expenses, Comptroller Kevin Hardwick said.

More than three dozen groups have qualified for an $8.6 million grant out of a $25 million pot that Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz set aside this year for one-time costs of construction, renovation and repair, mainly intended to benefit small and medium-sized cultural enterprises. organizations over the next few years.

“The vast majority of them have never received capital funding from the county before,” Poloncarz said.

Most years, small arts and culture organizations in need of money find the Erie County public funding application process cumbersome. They have complained of being held to the same standards as major cultural institutions that have the staff to put together requests worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.

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After a flurry of last-minute negotiations on Thursday, millions of dollars will flow to cultural institutions, as well as nonprofit community groups, youth organizations, veterans’ stations and other groups with specific construction and renovation needs.

The top grants include $925,000 each to cover half the cost of adding and renovating the Colored Musicians Club and Jazz Museum, and expanding and relocating the West Side Bazaar.

And on the low end, $4,127 for a mobile performance kit to benefit the Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus, and $11,000 to repair the porch of the Holland Historical Society building.

In between, more than 30 other arts and culture organizations receive varying amounts of support. Among the most important grants:

• $482,377 for renovations to the first phase of the Alleyway Theatre.

• $500,000 for the $5.5 million Graycliff Visitor Center expansion project.

• $500,000 for the $12.3 million Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute project.

• $500,000 for a $2 million renovation project for the Springville Center for the Arts.

• $500,000 for a Torn Space Theater construction project for cultural activities.

• $650,000 for an $18 million capital improvement project for Kleinhans Music Hall.

Poloncarz will announce spending priorities that

“He’s going to focus on the issues of resilience,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told The Buffalo News of his state of the county address. “The county, on its own, cannot solve the issues that politicize and create divisions, but hopefully there are things we can do to help bring the community together.”

In total, the 37 grants use $8.6 million of the $25 million set aside.

Poloncarz said many other organizations applied for special grants, but some were turned down because they weren’t cultural or arts organizations.

“Others had very, very interesting projects, but they were probably too big for us to consider at this stage,” he said.

The County Legislature is expected to approve the list of grant recipients, although this is expected since the Speaker of the Legislature and Majority and Minority Leaders participated in the Capital Project meeting to determine who should receive the grant. new grant available. The Legislative Assembly will vote on the list of grant recipients next month.

Erie County has a history of providing operational support to arts and culture organizations of all sizes, but the county generally does not help smaller organizations with costs related to renovations, repairs, and construction. unless they are considered major regional attractions, such as the Buffalo. Albright Knox Zoo or Art Gallery.

The remaining $16.3 million in capital funds should be reprofiled from year to year until all funds are exhausted.

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