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Greater Buffalo Cultural Alliance speaks out

Today, the Greater Buffalo Cultural Alliance held a press conference in the Market Arcade Building to send a message to residents and legislators about the centrality of cultural funding to the quality of life of Erie County. The event was held as a response to a recent spate of radio advertisements in which Erie County Executive Chris Collins attempted to convince listeners that the Legislature's restoration of cultural funding would result in a tax increase. This, according to Legislature democrats, cultural supporters (and, well, free-thinking people everywhere), is nothing more than an unfounded scare tactic.

The county executive, in his recent ads and now robo-calls, also tried to cast cultural support as a "special interest." It is in one sense a special interest, in that many of the people advocating for financial support are doing so from their positions as directors and employees of cultural organizations. But it is also a vast and widely supported public interest, in that the people who support culture in Erie County number in the millions. That support, because it is relatively diffuse compared to activities like Sabres and Bills games, and spread across so many cultural organizations (which number so many precisely because there are so many people to patronize them), has evaded the attention of our elected officials. That is, hopefully, until now.

At the press conference, Kramer and Torrell spoke for the crowd in voicing their opposition to the idea that the cultural community in Western New York represents some tiny, disconnected elite whose concerns have nothing to do with that of a large segment of the community. This is flatly untrue, as the numbers show.

Below is a video featuring comments from Randall Kramer and Laurie Dean Torrell which captures the feeling out there as the Legislature's crucial veto override vote approaches on Tuesday. (Apologies for the shakiness of the video, which was crudely shot on my phone.)

--Colin Dabkowski


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