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Oishei offers to restore Niagara arts funding


Dave Gifford, of Youngstown, works on an original oil painting this summer at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center in Niagara Falls. Funding for the arts center was recently cut by the City Council. (Photo: Charles Lewis/Buffalo News)

 By Charlie Specht

The John R. Oishei Foundation is stepping in to stave off funding cuts to Niagara Falls' cultural arts center.

The Buffalo philanthropic group is willing to match any amount -- up to $15,000 -- restored by the Niagara Falls City Council, which cut the funding last week.

“We see the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center being a significant part of Niagara Falls’ cultural identity and the city’s artistic heart,” foundation president Robert D. Gioia said in a statement. “Our investment in the formation of NACC has been substantial. While we will move to protect the NACC’s current status, it is our strong hope that the public funding critical to its continuing existence will be forthcoming.”

The city council three-man majority -- Glenn Choolokian, Sam Fruscione and Robert Anderson Jr. -- has cast doubt on that prospect, saying the arts center, after 10 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding, needs to become self-sufficient.

I spoke with Choolokian, who said he has not had a chance to formally review the offer. We might get a glimpse of the council's response later in the week as the agenda for Monday's council meeting takes shape.

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