Artpark Funding In Air

Earl W. Brydges Artpark in Lewiston, N.Y., is facing budget cuts for next year, despite receiving $450,000 in state aid for the past 15 years.

The venue, which is operated by the nonprofit Artpark & Company, features a 15,000-capacity amphitheatre and a 2,400-capacity theatre and is located near the Niagara River Gorge.

New York Gov. David Paterson has proposed cuts of around 15 percent, or about $41 million, for the statewide parks system. And because the venue is funded at the discretion of the state parks commission, Artpark could lose even more funding, according to the Niagara Gazette.

The venue is talking to state park and government representatives but the budget won’t be clearer until February.

Artpark began soil testing and core drilling in January to prepare the park for construction. Months earlier the venue announced a $4.5 million project to expand its amphitheatre to include more children’s programs and provide more room for adult shows.

The project was slated for completion by fall 2009 but the Gazette noted that it will most likely have to wait until 2010. Artpark President George Osborne told the paper that although the rate of funds received has slowed down, the projects’ still moving forward.

Osborne added the venue will continue to book acts for its popular free summer concert series.

In 2008, 220,000 people attended the concerts – double the number of fans since the series began in 2002. Osborne is hoping President Barack Obama can help the venue out through his $800 billion stimulus package.

The package is set to fund large infrastructure projects, which could include kicking down some cash for Artpark. Board of Directors Chairman Christopher Brown told the Gazette that instead of cutting back programs at Artpark to make up for budget cuts, the venue may supplement funding with other sources of revenue.