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Poloncarz: Arts and cultural funding set for year

Night lights 05
The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens in Lackawanna glows during its "Night Lights at the Gardens" event late last month. The light show continues through Saturday. (Robert Kirkham / Buffalo News)

Maybe next year.

That was the message Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz had for the Botanical Gardens in response to its request for operational funding from the county.

Poloncarz, in a letter to Botanical Gardens CEO David J. Swarts, called the Legislature's restoration of arts and cultural funding in the 2012 county budget a "remarkable achievement," but said there would be no more allocations for operational funding this year.

"Nevertheless, I regret to inform you that because of the fiscal challenges facing the county, I am unable to recommend to the Legislature additional funding for cultural organizations this year above what has been included in the adopted budget," Poloncarz wrote to Swarts on Feb. 12.

Legislators, with the help of Poloncarz, shifted funds in the 2012 budget to give 37 arts and cultural organizations $931,841 for operations this year. The decision was an attempt to restore funding to non-profit groups cut out of the budget by former County Executive Chris Collins.

But some organizations were left out, and the Botanical Gardens Society earlier this month contacted Poloncarz and legislators with the hope of getting added to the funding list this year.

Poloncarz, in his response, pledged that decisions regarding arts and cultural funding for next year's budget would be done through a "new, reinvigorated" process that would be similar to the old Erie County Cultural Resources Advisory Board.

"I look forward to the input of the Botanical Gardens and other institutions as partners in helping to create a better, stronger process that ensures the fair and equitable appropriation of operational support in order to ensure our cultural institutions, large and small, continue to play a significant role in our region's economy and overall quality of life," Poloncarz wrote.

Read the full letter here

-- Denise Jewell Gee


cultural funding | Erie County executive | Erie County Legislature | Mark C. Poloncarz
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Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

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Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

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Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

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