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Warren Buffett Urged to “Rock-a-Buffalo”


Two-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters asks billionaire Warren Buffett to lend a hand to stop the city of Buffalo’s leading theater from closing for good.

New York, NY (Sept. 1, 2008) Two-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters today joined the growing throng of people urging Berkshire-Hathaway billionaire Warren Buffett – who has owned the Buffalo News daily newspaper in Buffalo, New York since 1977 – to “Rock-a-Buffalo” by pitching in and finding a plan to save Studio Arena Theatre, the long-ailing theater that for decades has hosted some of America’s most talented national figures of song and stage.

“He’s not a Rockafeller, but he sure could Rock-a-Buffalo by pitching in to find a solution to the city’s most pressing cultural problem,” said the red-headed actress, echoing a phrase repeated by many involved in the situation. “For Buffalo to lose Studio Arena would be like Minneapolis to lose the Guthrie Theater, Louisville losing the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Denver losing the Denver Center Theatre Company, or Seattle losing its world famous Seattle Repertory Theatre.”

Peters has recently been touring in California and Philadelphia as well as promoting her new book for kids, “Broadway Barks,” royalties from which go to the animal adoption charity she co-founded with actress Mary Tyler Moore, also called “Broadway Barks.” Peters owns two dogs herself: her beloved mutt Kramer and a pit bull named Stella.

Among others leading the charge to save the beleaguered theater are well-known producer Tom Fontana (“Oz,” “St. Elsewhere”), actor Kelsey Grammar (“Frazier,” “Cheers”) and Buffalo-born actress Wendie Malick (“Just Shoot Me").

According to Peters, on June 25, 2006, Warren Buffett pledged to give Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation approximately 10 million Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares spread over multiple years through annual contributions, worth approximately US$30 billion in 2006 – an incredibly generous act, says Peters, accounting for 85 percent of his fortune.

“From what I read, however, as one part of its mission, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation specifically targets charities in the Northwest,” says Peters. “But hundreds of millions of Mr. Buffett’s generous donation came from profits that Mr. Buffett has specifically taken out of the city of Buffalo over the past 30 years from the Buffalo News, profits totaling over $100 million since he purchased the paper in 1977.

“When you see money that comes from Buffalo being repurposed to specifically help people in the Northwest instead of helping people right there in Buffalo – well, you know…might it not be possible…isn’t it at least worth considering? ... whether even the most teeny, tiny part of that generous donation to the Gates Foundation in Seattle might be sent back to Buffalo itself, and specifically to aid the beleaguered Studio Arena Theatre before it closes its doors forever?”

Peters notes that the Studio Arena Theatre clearly fits into one part of the mission of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – to improve educational opportunities in America -- because the theater runs a highly-respected acting school for aspiring young people in the area, many of whom have gone on to successful careers on the national stage. “But theater and film in themselves educate, as Mr. Buffett knows from his recent involvement in the production of the documentary “I.O.U.S.A.,” says Peters.

Studio Arena Theatre went dark last spring after its final production of “To Kill A Mockingbird,” shut down under the burden of a $3 million budget deficit. It is not alone in its financial plight: Other struggling arts organizations nationwide that are on the verge of extinction include the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in Columbus, Ohio, and the Texas Ballet Theater in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.


 berkshire hathaway
 buffalo news
 bernadette peters
 mary tyler moore
 broadway barks

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