Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mark Poloncarz for Erie County

Mark Poloncarz is running against Chris Collins for Erie County Executive. He is a friend of the arts and cultural organizations. Let's support him as best we can!

Here is some video I shot of him at a WI Union Solidarity Rally in February. Who needs a megaphone, anyway?

-Bob Van Valin

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Buffalo Common Council Hearing

From The Gusto blog of the Buffalo news...

Buffalo's Common Council gets an earful on the arts

Earlier this evening, many members of Buffalo's arts community gathered in the chambers of the Buffalo Common Council to make their case about the need for restoring city arts funding, which has been absent for more than a decade. The council already voted on a resolution authored by council member Michael LoCurto in support of allocating $300,000 for the Fund for the Arts (an alliance of local foundations), and council members expressed a hope that Mayor Byron Brown would include that funding in his budget.

(If not, Common Council President David A. Franczyk said he thought it would be possible for the council add in that funding and to gather the six common council votes needed should Brown veto that decision. But it hasn't come to that yet. Council member Michael Kearns, for his part, suggested allocating the money outside of the current budget process, which would avoid political tussling among a council and mayor that generally prefer to work together on budget matters.)

As has been typical of these meetings over the past several months, a wide range of cultural personalities made eloquent and forceful cases for investing public money in the arts. The usual suspects were there: Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center Executive Director Edumund Cardoni, Theatre of Youth Executive Director Meg Quinn, Music Is Art Executive Director Tod Kniazuk -- and they did their cause justice. But what set this meeting apart from some of the previous ones was the presence of a couple of impassioned and deeply informed younger voices who expressed what is becoming an increasing realization of Buffalo's very real potential to become a cultural center in the mold of Portland.

Out of the hour of speeches, these two, by actor Megan Callahan and curator and artist Jeff Maciejewski, are the highlights:

Listen to the full slate of speakers, which together represent an incontrovertible case for funding the arts at a far greater level than they're funded today:

--Colin Dabkowsk

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Agenda for 2011

(this is crossposted from the Facebook Group)

Welcome to 2011 everyone, we have a lot to do this year! Here are a few things:

1) We need to coordinate a good time for weekly/biweekly/monthly meetings. I guess if they are less often we can coordinate it when the time comes, but I would rather it be a regular thing.

2) Bonnie Jean Taylor is now the head of the Flash Mob Subcommittee, and can work on brainstorming ideas for future flash mobs. Whoever is interested in joining the committee is welcome. Once they have ideas, they can bring them to meetings to be discussed by the whole group.

3) Megan and I want to being to plan the collaborative arts festival that inspired this group. Everyone is invited to share ideas and input about it. The description can be read if you click "See All" next to Members on this page, then scroll down.

4) We need to figure out more ways to expose people to the arts who might not otherwise. This is a pretty broad topic so keep it in the back of your minds.

5) Chris Collins is up for reelection this year I believe, so politics is going to be a huge factor this year. We need to figure out ways to be influential without becoming overtly political or a "special interest."

6) I need to keep the blog updated and promote it. That's more of a personal reminder that I wanted to write down so I don't forget.

Feel free to comment if you have anything to add or want to discuss any of these points. Let's get a discussion going! The sooner we act, the sooner we can get things done.

-Bob Van Valin

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Call the Legislature!

Ok, I have compiled the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of all the Republican legislators.  Everyone, in the next 24 hours or so, call/text/email/tell as many people as you possibly can and urge them to call these legislators and tell them to stand with the people, and not with Collins, about arts funding.  Make sure to remind them that the Erie County Comptroller has said that the approved budget WILL NOT raise taxes.  If you are emailing someone asking them to call, link them to the petition, too:

John J. Mills - Minority Leader
Phone: 655-5650
Fax: 858-8818

Edward A. Rath III
Tel: (716) 633-0617
Fax: (716) 858-8818

Raymond W. Walter
Tel: (716) 631-7650
Fax: 716/858-8818

Lynne Dixon
Office Phone: 716/649-2640
Office Fax: 716/858-8818
County E-Mail –

Dino Fudoli
Phone: 716/601-3030
Office Fax: 716/858-8818
County E-Mail –

Kevin Hardwick
Office Phone: 716/873-3438
Office Fax: 716/858-8818
County E-Mail –

The phone # for Collins' office is 716-858-8500 and their email is  Call his office and tell his secretary that you support the budget that the legislature passed, and oppose a veto.

get the word out to as many people as you can!

Sign this petition!

n the next 48 hours, before the County Executive can freeze funds, let's get several thousands signatures and then we'll deliver to the Erie County Legislature in an effort to swing Republican votes to override Collin's veto, and continue to strengthen the Arts and Cultural community here in Western New York.

Anyone and everyone who can, please sign this!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Minutes from the Meeting 11/29/10

Empower Arts Buffalo 11/29/2010

Begin 7:35pm
End 10:00pm
Present: Megan , Bob, Jennifer, Jane, Katie, Lisa, Cassie, Cindy, Roger, Josie, Jim, Bonnie, Elizabeth

   Continue to talk about how to use technology and social networks to our advantage
   facebook group vs. fan page, also our blog
   Bob and Matt exchange (from facebook) having to do with ideas to put together concise handouts, petitions, etc. (bags of signatures to dump on the front steps i.e. miracle on 34th street); polling method to determine effects on local businesses; send thank you notes from artists to local commerce
   what’s going on with the FLASH MOBS
   form a mission statement/goals
   structure of meetings?
   how can we get support from local businesses? create the awareness and get them involved personally.

Remember, Legislation meets tomorrow at 1:15, meet at 1pm to show a big presence
300 people called Chris Collins office in one day!

Mission Statement and Goals/Objectives
For a starting point:
   create art in response to what we are feeling as an arts community
   raise awareness about the diversity of our arts culture
   celebrate what is fantastic about this city, and use that to create art
   inspire and engender responses that will affect current circumstances
   what would it look like without our arts scene?
   use art as a catapult to unite everyone, and in the long term kick start the arts scene here to confirm that funding us is the best decision
   cooperation between the arts scene and commerce, neighborhoods, cultural alliance?, attractions
   bring art to the people and ignite them
   remind people that art makes them happy, so they should seek it out
   will we intentionally protect/sustain funding for the arts?

how can we clarify our intentions so that we can be unified as a group?

make art and share it with people in order to inspire people to make more art

ignite, protect, empower, communicate, collaborate, community,

art, community, policy/synergy

There can be a mission statement, and there can be a more accessible motto
we don’t have to decide this right now, but find more clarified intentions
it can also be a living mission statement, dynamic, and possible to change with the organization. we could have core values that support them. the mission statement will come. When we go home, write core values, and email them to and we will post them!!

nature and science are also very inspiring and powerful

once we get going...will we find other things to support? Will we come up with position on current events? If we collaborate, we can make great changes in our city and community
if we are ever empowering buffalo, Empower Arts can be there.

People get excited about making the kind of change we are hoping to start. may all our voices be heard, so that art can become accessible and enriching to everyone.

the flashmob will be great, but the cultural weekend/festival might be really awesome in the spring

we should make our mission statement ACTIVE. take ACTION. be more “aggressive” and make sure we are always actively involved. we can work more with groups that are already in existence. use our enthusiasm in a positive and active way! we care about this city, and we care about the is greater than any individual. we are serving the community, not any one individual. we lighten the world.

keep a common goal of serving it up and staying light will keep egos in check.

what can people do to help, when they want to help but don’t know everything about what’s going on. We should be able to guide them to what they are interested in, and we should also be able to direct people to where they can go to attain the kind of involvement that they want to have.

to shine a light on the arts and arts community and interactively collaborate with the public the important role the arts play in our community and in our everyday lives

Culture to the people, culture to the people, right on!
come up with a jingle/chant

what if we give our ideas to a subcommittee, and then discuss what the committees achieved?

People will take what we say very seriously, so we have to make sure we are clear, even while we keep our hearts light. Think before posting on the group, and have a monitor to look over the group to avoid being perceived negatively or jokes that don’t come across right

passion vs. intentionality; opposite opinions is great, but it is scary when we feel like we should all always agree.

submit core values of why we are in this group over the next week, and a subcommittee will be evaluating them. what do you say to explain what Empower Arts Buffalo is?

whomever is at the meeting can be involved in votes/discussions. submissions can be sent in advance.

Can we find another time to meet, and another neutral place to meet?
Should we meet weekly? Will there be a rotation of members in attendance?

Also, scheduling rehearsals and meeting about the flashmob? Should those things be together, or separate? Can the mission/values be done online, and face time devoted to flashmob planning?

there are lots of people who want to be involved, so what can we do to help people know what they need to do?

a brief instruction sheet to catch up anyone who can’t be at a rehearsal
it helps to have one or two people “go-to people” to check in with.

if we have a map of the galleria, we should plot out where people will be, have stations “choreographed” out so that it is coordinated.
people in rehearsals can be the people you meet up with, leading the groups in different places.

We are singing “Welcome Christmas” from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. on a Saturday in the mall at noon. the lyrics are posted on the facebook group. everyone print them, and go to the link so they can listen to the song.

facebook event can have everything in it. it can be private, but invite every person that we know.

we are going to identify our name as a group, so we must have something that is representative of who and what we are. We could have countless profiles about why we are artists in buffalo.

but we DEFINITELY need what we are, who we are, and what we believe in.

Do we need funding to get that website started?

Dec 11 and Dec 18th at noon. What needs to be done by then:
   web interfaces to have information about who we are, what we want to do
   rehearsals with team/flash captains
   appoint flash captains
   check-in system and individual printing
   make empower signs
   facebook event with instructions (expected numbers)
   people with flip cameras/etc to capture the event (video team)
   alert the media to let them know so they can be there (media team)

   we will do the same thing on the 18th in a different place (secondary target)
   should we do a flash mob on the 4th at the tree lighting? at main and chippewa. around 530pm would be best.
   what if we have petitions and/or survey people about artistic events they have attended? can we have something the unifies us?
   be magical and fun and quick! Rewrite a verse of a carol?
   sleep in a pile, with phone alarms set. get up, hold up signs, and leave singing the rewritten carol (but it must be beautiful!). “Wake up Buffalo, Support the Arts”
   Facebook event for the flashmob...should we keep this smaller? maybe let it be as much as it will be. let those lying down be smaller, teach everyone else the lyrics to the song!
   we need to not disrupt people there at the tree lighting, and don’t be belligerent. do it before or after? how long before/after?
   rain contingency?
   have a pillow or blanket, or stuffed animal...

petition/bulletins on what we need to do to garner support for the arts

no boundaries to involvement

make sure that “Wake up” isn’t inflammatory. “Wake up to the arts?” “Rise and Shine Buffalo?” encourage people to support the arts. “Wake up with the arts?” Empower yourself, Empower Yourself: rise and shine with the arts.

Action Points:
1.  minutes will be posted
2.  email, core values which will be posted onto a document in the group
3.  Write lyrics for the carol for 12/4 and/or pick a song
4.  Bonnie will create an event for 12/4, 12/11, 12/18
5.  Bob and Matt will talk more about their conversation, and report back to the group in an addendum
6.  Website??
7.  figure out who will make a sign for saturday
8.  schedule rehearsals and/or a meeting to discuss it.
9.  Meeting 12/4 Saturday at 1130 (yoga class at 10?) (Buffalo Yoga) before the flash mob. rehearsal for the 12/11 flash mob too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Culture Counts in WNY Protest 10/25/10

This is a short video I shot of the first protest against the arts funding cuts, figured this is a good place to post it.