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TOURISM AGENCY HEARS PROPOSAL FOR IROQUOIS CULTURAL CENTER

The promise of jobs and the hope of creating a lasting cultural identity are rolled into an ambitious proposal dubbed the Iroquois Cultural Performing Arts Project.

The multifaceted, non-profit venture would be designed to preserve Salamanca's Seneca heritage and make the city a tourist destination.

Margaret Stuckart, the new director of the Western Door Community Development Corp. and manager of the project, outlined a three-year time line for members of the Cattaraugus County Tourism Promotion Agency, a group of tourism professionals who held a noontime meeting Thursday in the Myers Hotel and Steakhouse.

A "living traditional Iroquois village" will showcase native historic traditions, foods and crafts while educating visitors, training young people and employing as many as 50 Native Americans within three years.

Other components of the project include a professional theater dance company, a performing arts troupe and lectures in storytelling, myths and legends, games and the formation of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Mrs. Stuckart said the project will be very expensive, but some funding sources have been identified, including the Empire State Development Corp., which has been asked for $50,000 to fund a feasibility study. Other grant money is available, she said.

During the early stages of the project, the Western Door Community Development Corp. will share resources and performance venues with existing groups, such as the Cattaraugus County Living Arts Association, which operates the Ray Evans Seneca Theater, and the Twin Tiers Arts Alliance, which promotes a variety of area cultural events.

Mrs. Stuckart predicted the project will be a first-class operation and profitable, designed to be taken over by workers after the third year.

In other business, county tourism specialist Herb Clark told the group he is working on the development of an outdoor sports video geared toward outdoor writers.

The product will be shown and distributed at sports shows around the region.

Clark said some matching funds to make the video will come from his department's budget and the Chautauqua County tourism-promotion arm.

He also noted the video will benefit from unused money remaining from a joint Pennsylvania and New York State promotion of the Allegany region.

Clark also said printing of the county's 1999 travel guide will begin Tuesday and he received authorization to order promotional coffee mugs featuring the agency's logo and toll-free tourism information number. the mugs, which cost $2.08 each, will be sold for $2.50. The board meets next at 3 p.m. Feb. 25 in the County Center in Little Valley.

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