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Seven by Seven / Seven things you need to know by 7 a.m.

1. Shen Yun Performing Arts delighted audiences here with its colorful representations of Chinese music and dance on its first visit in May 2010, but News Critic Colin Dabkowski echoed the objections of other critics, namely that its survey of 5,000 years of Chinese culture includes plenty of promotion for the persecuted Falun Gong, whose followers in New York City have put together the production. The company returns to Shea's Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $61.50 to $132.

2. Second Fridays at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, from 4 to 8 p.m., finds the gallery on the Buffalo State College campus opening four new exhibitions, including "The Artists Among Us II," its second show of works by Burchfield Penney members, hundreds of them working in all media, which fill up the massive East Gallery and then some. One way to explore the breadth of it is to take part in the scavenger hunt from 5:30 to 7:30, in which visitors can search the exhibit for the answers to clues. The exhibit runs through Aug. 26.

3. The McCollum Orchards & Home, a historic 100-acre farmstead at the base of the Niagara Escarpment at 248 N. Adam St., Lockport, is the setting for the 21st annual meeting and reception of the Western New York Land Conservancy from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Andy Zepp, a founder and executive director of Finger Lakes Land Trust, will speak on landscape conservation strategies. Beverages and hors d'oeuvres featuring local foods will be served. Admission is $30, $25 for conservancy members. For information or to confirm attendance, call 687-1225 or email

4. The last in a series of three statewide public hearings on increasing New York State's minimum wage will be held at 1 p.m. in the Common Council Chambers at Buffalo City Hall. Comments will be heard on a bill introduced by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Keith Wright, D-Harlem, to raise the state's minimum wage to $8.50 an hour and index it to inflation. Advocates of raising the wage will rally at 11:30 a.m. outside the Mahoney State Office Building, 65 Court St.

5. Entertainment from the area's ethnic communities -- the Israeli folk band Zetz, Jamaican Calypso from Tropical Explosion, martial arts from Gold Summit, African drum and dance from the Buffalo African American Cultural Center and a demonstration from Master Chong World Class Taekwondo -- will be featured at the 13th annual dinner for the Buffalo Niagara Sister City Coalition from 6 to 9 p.m. in St. Anthony Church Hall, 160 Court St. Hosted by Mayor Byron W. Brown, the dinner celebrates ties with Buffalo's 18 sister cities in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. For information, call 851-5027 or email

6. A ribbon-cutting at 9 a.m. will kick off the round-the-clock operations at the first Crosby's convenience store in the Buffalo suburbs, at Union Road and Wehrle Drive in Amherst. Part of a 45-store chain, mostly in the Southern Tier and Pennsylvania, it will offer gas, pizzas and subs, and Tim Hortons coffee and baked goods, along with the usual convenience store goodies. As part of the opening celebration, JACK-FM will broadcast live from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and there will be special contests and giveaways.

7. Blockbuster alert! The summer mega-movie arriving on local screens today is director Tim Burton's over-the-top film version of the beloved gothic TV soap opera "Dark Shadows," with Johnny Depp fulfilling a lifelong ambition to play the vampire Barnabas Collins. Michelle Pfeiffer is his cousin, the matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, and Helena Bonham Carter is Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman, Elizabeth's live-in psychiatrist. Four actors from the original series also have cameo roles. It will open wide on regular screens and alternate with showings of "The Avengers" in the IMAX theater at the Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Road, Lancaster.