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Cultural groups win big in new round of state grants

The latest round of grants from the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council will fund a wide range of cultural projects, ranging from major renovations of cultural destinations in Erie and Niagara counties to new part-time positions at smaller theaters and galleries.

The grants, announced on Thursday, are part of $68.8 million distributed to groups around the state.

At the top of the list is a $750,000 grant to fund the ongoing renovation of the Springville Center for the Arts, which houses a theater, art gallery and educational spaces. Also in line for a major renovation grant is Buffalo's African American Cultural Center, which will receive $600,000 toward its expansion into "an Urban Cultural Campus of multi-cultural understanding and community collaboration."

In Niagara County, the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center will receive $500,000 toward the renovation of its headquarters in the former Niagara Falls High School.

The grants also reflect a recent trend toward the hiring of arts education and community outreach employees at various cultural groups. Education or outreach positions will be added at Theatre of Youth, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Shakespeare in Delaware Park, each of which received grants ranging from $25,000 to $30,000.

Theme-based cultural projects will also benefit, with Just Buffalo Literary Center receiving $73,000 for a public art project called "Words on the Street" and Torn Space Theatre in line for $60,000 to fund its second annual Response Performance Festival, which brings international artists and scholars to Buffalo.

"This year we prioritized projects that will add job opportunities and quality-of-life by advancing our core strategies of placemaking, workforce development, innovation and entrepreneurship," council co-chair Jeff Belt said in a statement. "These strategies provide the unifying framework that has enabled public, private and foundation investments to work together for the good of the region.”

WNY awarded $68.8 million for economic development projects

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