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CITY MUST NOT ABANDON ARTS COMMISSION

In the summer of 2001, I was a 21-year-old who had written a play and had nowhere to go with it. I knew that I wanted to seek production, but had no clue where to begin. Around the same time, I met David Granville, executive director of the Buffalo Arts Commission. I mentioned that I had written a play, and he asked if he could look at it some day.

Four months later, I stood on the Buffalo United Artists Upstairs Cabaret stage with four other actors presenting the first public reading of "Confessions."

It was hard for me to grasp the idea that my labor of love had moved from being my little secret to something that was out there for the community to experience. In January 2002, Buffalo United Artists, under Granville's direction, staged a complete production of the play, which moved to Rochester for a weekend.

Both of my plays have since enjoyed successful productions, I have been honored with my second Artvoice Theatre Award nomination and I am in negotiation to sell the performance rights to a theater company in Salt Lake City, Utah.

At the same time, Granville's position is being cut from the budget, effective July 1. There is no doubt in my mind that I am not the first artist, and certainly will not be the last, to benefit from his passion and dedication to promoting the arts. As I look at the opportunities he introduced me to, it is disheartening to realize the city does not place the same value in his work that I do.

I would like to believe that there is still a chance the city might realize the mistake it is making by abandoning the Arts Commission and the person who has made it what it is. I would like to believe that there is a chance the mayor and Common Council will re-examine this decision and find a way to restore the Arts Commission and retain Granville as its leader.

MATTHEW CREHAN HIGGINS

Buffalo

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