Long Term Future of Allentown Art Gallery is Blurry

March 9, 2011 Updated Mar 9, 2011 at 7:59 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

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March 9, 2011 Updated Mar 9, 2011 at 7:59 PM EDT

(Buffalo N.Y.) Executive director of the El Museo on Allen Street in Buffalo, admits that 'Arts People' are a "tough bunch."

But severe budget cuts from both New York State and Erie County are forcing small not-for-profit cultural institutions, like El Museo, to wonder how much longer they can "keep the lights on and the doors open," says Dr. Craig Centrie.

El Museo was one of 47 Arts and Cultural groups that saw its funding slashed in this years Erie County Budget.

"We've lost about 45% of our total operating budget over the past 10 years," remarks Dr. Centrie from El Museo in regards to funding cuts from the City of Buffalo, New York State, and Erie County.

This year, El Museo lost its entire $6,500 allocation from Erie County.

To try and survive, El Museo employees have worked without pay. The gallery cut back on mailings and advertising. And shows from non-local artists have been limited to one per year.

El Museo started 30 years ago. It is dedicated to "minority art, minority artists, and minority issues," adds gallery manager Kitty Lambert.

El Museo is preparing to open a show featuring internationally known Latino artist Nestor Zarragoitia.

The gallery will also be sponsoring the National Arts Program in December 2011. The National Arts Program will exhibit art created by Buffalo Police and employees from the Buffalo Board of Education.

"Our offerings to the general public are getting slimmer," laments Dr. Craig Centrie.

El Museo and other Erie County Arts and Cultural groups are holding out hope that a $1-million dollar fund-raising effort will be successful.

Called "Give for Greatness", the two month endeavor is hoping to raise enough funds to help smaller cultural organizations, like El Museo, survive and even prosper.

Channel 7 WKBW-TV is a proud co-sponsor of "Give for Greatness" with ARTVOICE and M&T Bank.

Contributions can be made by supporting one of several "Give for Greatness" events or calling 888-748-4925.

For more information, check out www.giveforgreatness.org