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.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Minutes from first meeting 11/22/10

Minutes from Empower Arts Buffalo Open Space Meeting
(submitted by Megan Callahan)

please send additions/revisions/corrections to

Megan Callahan, Matthew Crane, Josie Divencenzo, Joe Donohue, Jennifer Fitzery, Elizabeth Oddy,  Stan Klimecko, Joy Scime, James Robert Steiner, Bonnie Jean Taylor, Bob Van Valin,

Meeting start 7:45pn, end 10:00pm
Location: Buffalo Yoga

Megan welcome everyone and explained “Open Space,” and the law of two feet principle.

The group formulated several questions to go into:

How to avoid Disunity?
Is there leadership and are they reaching everyone?
How do we get more people involved and what are our goals?
Why does art matter?
How do we go about planning and executing a magical and powerful flashmob?
What are our intentions?

Discussion began as a whole group, but then broke off, in the style of open space, into one group discussing the Flashmob, and the other discussing leadership. After about a half hour, we returned to a joint discussion. The group continued to brainstorm and share about the flashmob and beyond until 10pm. People volunteered to do several tasks/research.

Two main ideas/talking points that kept emerging as a focal point for our efforts:
-To raise awareness to the greater population of Western New York about the richness and diversity of cultural and artistic offerings.
-Through this awareness, encourage the legislature and government to continue to support and nurture arts and culturals in the Greater Western New York area.

It came up several times as well, the importance of not being preachy or over-politicizing the issues at hand, but to enliven hearts, and promote unity and cross-collaboration. We discussed intentionality versus emotionality.

Joy mentioned that with the dissolution of the arts council, how inspiring it was to be around a grassroots group of actual artists talking about how to improve arts awareness in Buffalo.

Flyer/handbill to be put in all art venue playbills that patrons can fill out and drop in baskets upon leaving their venue/event showing their continued support of the arts. To be later distributed to appropriate members of the legislature.

Contact Buffalo publics schools – music/art/drama teachers and involve kids in letter campaign, etc in importance of arts education, programs and beyond.

Matt mentioned reaching out to church groups, as potential members of flash mob events, caroling, and advocacy.

Josie mentioned petitioning local businesses to raise awareness of the trickle down effect of culturals into dollars spent in the buffalo community.

The group felt we should start a blog or wordpress with url empowerartsbuffalo to reach beyond the facebook population.

We need a personal credo to keep our efforts focused and united, clarify to others our intentions, as well as a mission statement/vision.

The festival/event involving a huge cross-medium collaboration was mentioned, and suggested for the spring.

Flashmob locations still include the mall, sabers game between periods bus station.

Caroling in smaller groups door to door to bring people joy and raise awareness of the arts scene here, with potential flyering or petition at the end was brought up.

“support local arts: it does a body good” front of shirt… “empower arts buffalo” on the back.

Bob has a connection to Christine Baranski.  It came up that using a celebrity would help bring exposure to the vibrant and rich arts community here in Buffalo.

Megan and Elizabeth are going to look into contacting sports figures in buffalo as potential art supporters/mouthpieces.

Those with contacts through press outlets were asked to reach out to them about our efforts.

Elizabeth will send out mission statement formula and those at the meeting and others are encouraged to submit their versions to

Bob will make an event for the flashmob and send out. people can rsvp there and also email if interested.

Bonnie Jean is following up with her friend Scott who is in the Buffalo Philharmonic orchestra about their random act of culture and potential involvement with our flashmob.

Tenative flashmob dates are dec 11 and 18 at noon at the galleria mall, or one location one week, a different one the next. Bonnie Jean has suggested “welcome Christmas” from the grinch stole Christmas, with very simple movement- at the end participants hold up signs that say “empower arts buffalo” and then vanish, in proper flash mob style.

Collaborative project


Angered over the proposed budget cuts? Feeling helpless and wondering what you can do?


Let's put our heads and hearts together to protest the cuts!
Seeking artists from all disciplines to collaborate on a massive, multi-media installment celebrating our great community!
Actors, Directors, Writers, Designers, Dancers, Choreographers, Painters, Photographers, Sculptors, Videographers, Media Artists, Musicians, and everyone in-between!

Looking for:
Artists and concerned citizens of ALL types to participate in a one to three day arts event, date TBA. Event will include an installation with visual arts from all mediums, spoken word/essays/poetry/live music and a rotating performance schedule of 5-15 minute pieces: dance, theater, music, film, multi-media and collaborations that all speak to the following questions/ideas:

1) Envision Buffalo without its arts scene...
2) What is Buffalo because of its arts scene?
3) In your wildest imaginings, what could be the future of Buffalo and its artistic culture/community?

If you are interested in serving on the steering committee for this project, or have a proposal, or even a zygote of an idea for a piece, please email or leave a message here.

Please note that there are many levels of involvement possible here as well all dream together. We dream of a massive, empowering, celebratory artistic event that will create opportunities for further collaboration, dialogue and maybe even policy making.

We look forward to hearing from you!