Earlier this evening, many members of Buffalo's arts community gathered in the chambers of the Buffalo Common Council to make their case about the need for restoring city arts funding, which has been absent for more than a decade. The council already voted on a resolution authored by council member Michael LoCurto in support of allocating $300,000 for the Fund for the Arts (an alliance of local foundations), and council members expressed a hope that Mayor Byron Brown would include that funding in his budget.
(If not, Common Council President David A. Franczyk said he thought it would be possible for the council add in that funding and to gather the six common council votes needed should Brown veto that decision. But it hasn't come to that yet. Council member Michael Kearns, for his part, suggested allocating the money outside of the current budget process, which would avoid political tussling among a council and mayor that generally prefer to work together on budget matters.)
As has been typical of these meetings over the past several months, a wide range of cultural personalities made eloquent and forceful cases for investing public money in the arts. The usual suspects were there: Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center Executive Director Edumund Cardoni, Theatre of Youth Executive Director Meg Quinn, Music Is Art Executive Director Tod Kniazuk -- and they did their cause justice. But what set this meeting apart from some of the previous ones was the presence of a couple of impassioned and deeply informed younger voices who expressed what is becoming an increasing realization of Buffalo's very real potential to become a cultural center in the mold of Portland, Ore.
Out of the hour of speeches, these two, by actor Megan Callahan and curator and artist Jeff Maciejewski, are the highlights:
Listen to the full slate of speakers, which together represent an incontrovertible case for funding the arts at a far greater level than they're funded today:
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