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February 4, 2013

After 'nice run,' NACC funds cut by council majority

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — NIAGARA FALLS — City support for a local arts and cultural organization has officially come to an end, according to members of the city council’s three-man majority. 

Saying the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center — an organization that grew out of a community based drive several years ago to save the old Niagara Falls High School from the wrecking ball — has “had a nice run,” Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian said this week he’ll support efforts to suspend city funding that has been enjoyed by the non-profit organization for years.  

Choolokian and Councilman Sam Fruscione both said they will move to end the allocation of city funds for the NACC because they think the time has come to stop what they view as the organization’s “frivolous” spending practices. 

The NACC has received more than $330,000 from the city during the last 11 years, but Choolokian said given the city’s current financial situation it cannot continue to carry the load this year.

“The NACC’s done,” Choolokian said. “We can’t continue to fund these things.”

Fruscione pointed to a document submitted by the nonprofit listing expenses for programming, saying the city should not be paying for the organization to throw parties, such as the Art of Beer fundraiser and the NACC’s 10th birthday party.

“We’re not going to support the NACC at all,” he said.

But Kathy Kudela, the executive director of the nonprofit, said there is some confusion over the document. The spending report that was submitted to the city council accounts only for spending on programming and does not list the more than $150,000 a year that the organization spends keeping the lights on, the sidewalks clear and the grass trimmed at the 180,000-square-foot former Niagara Falls High School building.

“What we really spend the money that the council gives us on is maintaining this building as a legacy for the city,” she said.

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