The Give 4 Greatness Campaign announced Wednesday that more than $90,000 was raised to benefit arts organizations that lost their county funding.
The funds, together with $430,000 provided by 11 foundations and $200,000 from the city, bring to $720,000 the amount to be dispensed to arts groups. That's short of the $1 million goal but exceeds the $600,000 county reduction in arts funding for 2011.
It was also announced that the Give 4 Greatness Campaign, sponsored by M&T Bank, Artvoice and WKBW-TV Channel 7, will become an ongoing effort and that local actress Megan Callahan will serve as executive director, a postion being funded by an area corporation.
"We're hoping that this will be a precedent, that we will see the city and the county restore funding long term to these arts groups so that Give 4 Greatness will help them thrive," Callahan said at Albright-Knox Art Gallery. "If this doesn't happen, then Give 4 Greatness will continue to be here to help them survive."
A funding committee of arts advocates will determine how much the arts groups, now numbering 51, will receive, Callahan said.
Vincent O'Neill, artistic director of the Irish Classical Theatre, said he was heartened by how the community has rallied around the arts.
"In a sense, the decision to cut county funding was a catalyst that brought together this entire community, so there is a very good side to this," he said.
The arts community is taking a big step forward by making Give 4 Greatness permanent, said Randall Kramer, artistic director of MusicalFare Theatre.
"Megan's position being created, and funded privately, augurs very well for the future This is a great, great day," Kramer said.
MusicalFare combined in April with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra to produce classic musical theater pieces at Kleinhans Music Hall to benefit Give 4 Greatness, one of many benefits held since the fundraising effort got under way 2 1/2 months ago.
Callahan said interest in helping the arts remains high. "People are continuing to say, 'How can we support the city? How can we support the arts?' " she said.
She encouraged people to donate online at email@example.com.