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GO Art! director spearheading effort to develop cultural plan for Western New York

The Batavian
The Batavian
 2022-08-09

The executive director of the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council is seeking multiple county support to develop a comprehensive plan, of sorts, to expand arts and culture programming and tourism throughout Western New York.

Speaking at the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee meeting on Monday afternoon, Gregory Hallock pitched his proposal to apply for a National Endowment of the Arts grant that would partially fund the development of a “cultural plan” for nine WNY counties and possibly for the cities of Rochester and Buffalo.

He said foundations in Buffalo and Rochester are supporting the effort, with the goal of drafting plans for specific regions (including the GLOW region of Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties) plus “an overall, arching plan that combines all of them.”

Hallock said he hasn’t determined the cost of this initiative yet, but is applying for $150,000 – with the NEA contributing $90,000 and the affected counties allocating the remaining $60,000.

“The Western New York Foundation and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo both said they would only do this if there was a buy-in from all the counties,” he said. “I want this because this is my ‘next step.’ We’ve built and done a lot of stuff, but now I need to get people coming to our area for arts and culture. So, this is a big thing.”

Erie County has committed $10,000, Hallock said, adding that he is hoping that Genesee County would provide the same amount as a “one-time contribution.”

Hallock said the grant application is due by the end of the week, with the time period for implementation starting next July and running through June 2024.

“It will be a year’s worth of working on this,” he said, advising the committee that the goal is to hire a program administrator at a salary of $50,000.

He asked the committee to submit “a letter of support” at this time. GO Art! and Orleans County are the lead agency and county, respectively, for the project.

County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein informed the committee that County Manager Matt Landers is supporting the bid, while “not wanting to be the big dog in the fight,” and added that Wyoming County also will be signing a letter of support to apply for the grant.

Landers said the planning document is meant to show the area’s arts and culture strengths and weaknesses and where time, energy and resources should be dedicated.

“This is an opportunity for a study to be done,” Landers said. “The studies are not cheap and to get a grant to provide one is not only beneficial but essential.”

The committee agreed to issue a letter of support – moving the proposal up the line toward a vote by the full legislature.

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