Advocates for Developmentally Disabled Protest State Cuts

March 15, 2013 Updated Mar 15, 2013 at 6:49 PM EDT

By John Borsa

March 15, 2013 Updated Mar 15, 2013 at 6:49 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Art can be inspiring, though-provoking and even emotional.

On the walls of a Delaware Avenue art gallery, you will find paintings by very special artists, each with its own unique story.

"I'm good at what I do. I'm good with my hands," said artist Matthew Sharp, who is developmentally disabled.

Sharp found his artistic talents with the help of Starlight Studio and Gallery. Professionals guide developmentally disabled artists like Matthew, uncovering hidden talents.

Marc Hennic came up with the idea when he saw a similar gallery in California.

"I think you can just see from looking around here what a vibrant, exciting, important place this is to all the individuals that are served by this program," said Hennic.

Now, Starlight is in jeopardy of losing nearly all of its state funding because Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a six percent cut to programs like this one.

That equals about $240 million.

Some lawmakers want to restore half of that funding, including Assemblyman Sean Ryan.

"We've drawn a pretty deep line in the sand. We're going to balance this budget, but we're not going to balance it on the backs of those with developmental disabilities," said Ryan.

All so artists like Matthew Sharp can keep painting.

"You shut this place down, then we won't have a place to do artwork," Sharp said.

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