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Hundreds Expected For Arts Day In Albany

Between 300 and 400 pro-arts New Yorkers are expected to gather in Albany on Tues., March 4, for the annual Arts Day, when statewide forces rally and urge legislators to increase arts funding.

Celebrities including Tony Randall and Geoffrey Holder, artists, representatives of arts agencies, and other arts supporters will request an additional $6.6 million for the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). Of those monies, $6 million would go for "ongoing disciplines support," i.e., grants for arts organizations and projects; another $600,000 would be added to "state operations," the term for NYSCA's operating budget.

Gov. George Pataki earlier this year proposed a $39 million NYSCA budget for FY98, which begins April 1. His figures included $27.9 million for grants to not-for-profit organizations, including theatre and dance companies, and $3.3 million for NYSCA operations.

Should the legislature agree with arts advocates on the budget increase, it would provide NYSCA with nearly $46 million--a jump of $14 million over the amount Albany allotted for the arts in the FY97 budget. Still, Judy Kaufman Weiner, executive director of the Alliance of New York State Arts Organizations which is organizing Arts Day, is optimistic that the legislators will be generous.

"We've been meeting with legislators, and they seem to be supportive of this," Weiner told Back Stage.

At last year's Arts Day, advocates requested $5.5 million more funds for NYSCA. Sen. Roy Goodman (R-Manhattan), chairman of the senate Special Committee on the Arts and Cultural Affairs, helped convince the senate to add $2.5 million; but the Assembly added only $1.5 million.

Weiner feels that, this year, advocates stand a good chance to get more Assembly money because of "an interesting dynamic with Sen. Goodman and Assemblyman Paul Tokasz from Buffalo, the new chair of the assembly Arts Committee." Tokasz, having run on the Democrat-Conservative ticket, he could be an avenue to both moderate Assembly arts supporters and doubting con

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