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February 4, 2013

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

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — In 2011 the organization spent more than $400,000 in total, according to information supplied to the Niagara Gazette by Lou Townsend, the center’s director of finance.

The organization gets most of its money through renting space to artists and fees from events, but also uses the money from the city, private donations and grants to keep the building running and to provide programming to local residents and youth.

More than 70 artists have studio space in the building.

“The majority of our money comes from rentals,” Kudela said.

In addition to spending upwards of $200,000 on upkeep, the organization also employs a small staff. During the years in question, the art center’s payroll has gone from $125,000 to $106,000, according to financial figures provided by Townsend.

And maintaining those numbers has not been easy, said Townsend, who ran an auto parts store for more than 40 years before selling it in 1993.

“I think the NACC has been frugal beyond belief,” he said.

Both Kudela and Townsend are full-time volunteers, putting in full work weeks to run the not-for-profit without compensation.

Fruscione pointed to other expenditures — including $12,000 a year the organization has used to put on a jazz series in recent summers and a $500,000 gift from the city that was used in 2007 to match a state grant for the repair of the building’s roof — as other reasons to cut off city funding to the organization.

Fruscione, Councilman Charles Walker and Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. were on the council when the decision was made to provide casino revenues to repair the roof and save the building. Their names appear on a plaque commemorating that decision in the second floor hallway of the building near the not-for-profit’s offices.

Fruscione said he is embarrassed that he voted to fund the new roof on the building and that the council should have let Benderson Development raze the building and turn the site into a plaza as the company had proposed.

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