Tonawanda News

September 6, 2013

Grant could bolster arts

By Michael Regan michael.regan@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — As North Tonawanda looks for hundreds of thousands of dollars to bolster the accessibility of the renowned Carnegie Art Center, another $3,000 grant awarded to the organization this week may assist their cause. 

The Preservation League of New York State awarded the money to the Tonawandas’ Council on the Arts for an “accessibility study” that will be used to commission Flynn Battaglia Architects of Buffalo. 

The firm will produce a study with design recommendations to assist the center in improving accessibility to its structure, an initiative that North Tonawanda City Officials have been pushing to achieve during the last several years. 

The structure was established by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1904.

The Lumber City Development Corporation, the city’s funding arm, applied for $350,000 in state funding to make the venue handicaped accessible, with an announcement expected later this year. 

Council President Rich Andres said with many seniors widely attending and supporting the center, and because of its prodigious past, the investment is crucial.  

“In my estimation the building is underutilized,” he said, adding that the common council is considering wrapping a roughly $20,000 line item into current budget talks for asbestos abatement in the building’s basement.  

Mary L. Simpson, executive director of Tonawandas’ Council on the Arts, said the “grant will help the Carnegie Art Center fulfill its core mission of art for all.”

 “Our home, North Tonawanda’s first public library, donated by Andrew Carnegie, has served the public for more than a century, first as a library and now as an art center,” she said, in a statement released on Wednesday. “We are delighted to receive a Technical Assistance Grant to identify ways to create universal accessibility, so that everyone can participate in art, including individuals with physical and mobility challenges. Art is the essential foundation to cultural vibrancy and quality of life.”

The Preservation League of New York State launched the Technical Assistance Grant program in 2012 to support discrete projects that preserve New York State’s cultural and historic resources. 

Grants of up to $3,000 are available to not-for-profit arts and cultural groups and municipalities managing historic sites, museums, arts facilities and other culturally important institutions that are located in historic buildings and structures open to the public. Each grant recipient must provide a $500 match and the cost of the project may not exceed $3,500.

“Our TAG program fills a significant funding gap,” said Jay DiLorenzo, president of the Preservation League. “It is tailored to provide support to worthy projects in New York that may be ineligible for grants from other sources, or may not have the scope or scale to compete at regional and national levels.”

Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.