More than a year ago, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., made Artspace Projects of Minneapolis aware of Buffalo's rich potential as an incubator for the arts.
That paid off Monday.
Clinton announced that the Buffalo Artspace project to convert a loft into a downtown living and studio facility received its first $250,000 in federal funds from the omnibus appropriations bill approved as Congress adjourned last week.
"This is great news," she said, "coming only a week after Artspace's selection of the Breitweiser Printing Building, (at 1219) Main Street, Buffalo, is the perfect location to establish an artist homestead program, and now we have the tools to make it happen."
Clinton and Mayor Anthony M. Masiello announced that Artspace Projects signed a memorandum of understanding with the city to create a project with living and work space for as many as 50 artists.
The senator also announced the appropriations measure contains $400,000 for the continued development of the Graycliff Estate in Derby as an architectural landmark and a heritage tourist attraction.
Artspace had built a national organization for helping artists in 500 communities nationwide to create living and working space in old office buildings and factory lofts.
Encouraged by Clinton, Artspace leaders visited Buffalo in May and met with artists and local officials, including Masiello.
Begun in 1926, Graycliff was designed by the late architect Frank Lloyd Wright for Isabelle R. Martin and her husband, Darwin D. Martin, an executive of the Larkin Co.
Situated on an 8.4-acre site, the two-story building was the Martins' summer home between 1928 and the mid-1940s. The more famous Martins' winter home is the fabled Darwin Martin House at Jewett Parkway and Summit Avenue.
The new federal money will go toward improving Graycliff's parking capacity, signs and landscaping.
"I am doing everything I can to preserve Graycliff for future generations," Clinton said.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., announced the omnibus bill reinforced an amendment he introduced into an earlier bill to make counseling services available in Western New York to workers who were injured by handling nuclear materials in factories contracted to develop hydrogen bomb weapons.
The omnibus bill mandates creation of the counseling centers. Schumer last summer saw to it that the Defense Authorization Act permitted development of these centers.
Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, also supported creation of the centers that will help the injured workers and their families apply for benefits.
"We have New Yorkers literally dying off, waiting for these payments that were promised to them," Schumer said.