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Cultural groups are lifeblood of community

As a junior at the University at Buffalo, I like to consider myself a Buffalo transplant; I'm not just a seasonal or a short-term resident. When I chose UB, I chose its surroundings. I took a job here and registered to vote here. I became a member of the greater Buffalo and Erie County communities.

As such, I am concerned about the future of the art and cultural institutions that are at our base.

With Erie County legislators considering cutting funding to these societal mainstays of the Queen City, it is time for all of us -- born-and-raised and home-away-from-home residents alike -- to speak up.

When I went through the college selection process, I took into account a lot more than academics alone. I didn't just tour campuses -- I explored communities and searched out the pulse of my possible new homes. Of all the places I could have moved, Buffalo excited me the most.

It was by no means a thriving economy or trend-setting style that won my heart. I could have easily gone to a city like New York for that. Buffalo, however, struck me as a wealth of hidden gems.

There is rarely a weekend in this city where there isn't a live performance worthy of rave reviews on stage in our Theater District.

Traveling back in time to embrace the great eras of the surrounding region is as easy as taking a trip to the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.

A night of music can be taken in by driving through a traffic circle designed by the legendary Frederick Law Olmsted to hear the world-class Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in an acoustically near-perfect hall designed by master architect Eero Saarinen -- the same man who designed the iconic TWA Terminal at JFK International Airport.

And to think that all of this is in a county that also includes one of the safest suburbs in America and a school that has exactly what I need. And I know I'm not alone.

Even back in the days of a looming "red budget" and threats of even higher taxes, people in Erie County embraced their cultural base as a part of their lives.

As a public relations assistant at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and as the editor in chief of the Spectrum, the student newspaper at UB, I could protest on behalf of my personal positions.

This, however, is bigger -- cutting funds to the culturals of Erie County would be devastating. Not just to the BPO or to the students of UB, but to the entire city, county and surrounding area.

What I ask of our county legislators is that they not forget who they represent. They represent a community that loves, cherishes and needs the organizations that rely on funding from their county.

We are not a community that can financially afford higher ticket or admission prices, but we are also not a community that can afford to lose our venues for expression and inspiration.

Erie County legislators should know that, even in a time when funding is tight everywhere and it is easy to lose focus on what matters, we can't forget that the arts and the culturals are critical to who we are. Don't let budgets that cut funding to the lifeblood of this county continue.

Don't send a message to me and people like me who chose Buffalo that we made a bad choice.

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