The United Arts Appeal of Chautauqua County hopes to keep eight organizations alive through its 2012 fundraising campaign.
The UAA kicked off the drive with two collaborative "Kaleidoscope" events earlier this month. Hosted by 1891 Fredonia Opera House and Reg Lenna Civic Center, the events featured the eight UAA member organizations that benefit from its campaign.
The Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet, Community Music Project, 1891 Fredonia Opera House, Infinity Visual and Performing Arts Inc., Jamestown Concert Association, Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown, Reg Lenna Civic Center, and the Western New York Chamber Orchestra showed what they offer to Chautauqua County. According to UAA president Rick Davis, what they offer is a better way of life.
Representing the Reg Lenna Civic Center, from left, Jay Peterson, facilities support; Jeff?Erickson, facilities manager; and Nate Arnone, board president, performed at the United Arts Appeal’s “Kaleidoscope” events in Fredonia and Jamestown earlier this month. Erickson says the UAA helps arts in the area succeed through collaboration.
"Study after study after study shows that places with rich arts and culture have a better quality of life and businesses succeed there," he said. "We conduct the campaign to solicit funds from businesses, because the arts are good for businesses."
Operating on the United Way model, UAA uses one campaign each year to help fund the eight organizations, rather than having each organization contact each business. The campaign also benefits from individual contributions, foundations and the county. However, the amount of funding coming in has decreased in recent years.
"Currently, there's money given out of the bed tax proceeds each year to the United Arts Appeal, and that's the sole contribution that will come from the county," Davis said. "It used to be years ago that Chautauqua County had in its general operating budget a support for the arts. When times became tough and there was budget-cutting, it was taken out of the general operating fund. The campaign has actually gotten smaller, but we're still in existence and still more important than ever."
UAA funding is unrestricted, allowing it to use money where the need is the greatest. To be a member of UAA, an organization must have a minimum annual budget of $40,000. The organization must have a paid staff or executive director. However, UAA does give a portion of campaign funds to smaller organizations and individual artists in the community each year.
Despite the dip in funding recently, the member organizations appreciate what they receive from UAA.
"I think it's great when arts organizations can work in a collaborative effort together," said Jeff Erickson, facilities manager for Reg Lenna Civic Center. "I think all of the arts in the area stand a better chance of succeeding when they work together. The fact that we just did a 'Kaleidoscope' show together and all put on a collaborative program together to have the same outcome, I think is something great."
"There's strength in numbers, and we're all working together to try and keep each other alive and keep the arts in the community," added Shane Hawkins, director of Infinity. "It's been a great thing for us just to be able to sit in a room with other organizations and be a part of collective fundraising, collective brainstorming and collective marketing. We want to make the community aware of what's available artistically."
What's available in Chautauqua County is high-quality, diverse art and entertainment, according to Davis. The only common thread between all of the organizations is that they offer arts programming. Reg Lenna Civic Center and 1891 Fredonia Opera House bring in forms of art and share it with the community, while Jamestown Concert Association brings in national touring artists. Little Theatre offers community theater, and the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet and Infinity put on performances and have educational components. Community Music Project sponsors the Chautauqua Chamber Singers, the Jamestown Choral Society and the Children's Music Studio; and the Western New York Chamber Orchestra is the community's only professional orchestra.
"There's really a variety of artist genres: theater, dance, music and performing arts venues," Davis said. "You're seeing very high-quality entertainment and performing artists. That's a wonderful thing for Chautauqua County."
In the future, UAA hopes to grow its campaign, which would allow it to better assist the arts organizations in Chautauqua County. Davis believes the UAA helps keep its member organizations running.
"This is a tough time for the arts right now," he said. "It's becoming much more competitive to get grant support and government support. The only other place to look is earning the revenue yourself through ticket sales and fundraising. The United Arts Appeal is going to be more important until those things change."