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M&T Bank's $500,000 gift leads new push for 'Crescendo Campaign'

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Wed, Jun 1st 2016 04:50 pm

Continues the bank's long history of support for the BPO

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's Crescendo Campaign is taking the next step to up the tempo in pushing toward the $25 million benchmark this summer.

With approximately $23 million in pledges already made, the campaign is targeting $2 million in new grants over the next few months. The M&T Charitable Foundation has pledged the first $500,000 and is encouraging other business leaders in the region to join the effort.

"The BPO is one of the cultural gems of Western New York, performing in one of Buffalo's architectural masterpieces, the historic Kleinhans Music Hall, which just celebrated its 75th anniversary," M&T Bank Chairman and CEO Robert G. Wilmers said. "Our orchestra needs the support of business leaders in our community to ensure it has a strong future for decades to come. We encourage other local businesses to join us in this important effort."

M&T has been an active supporter of the BPO for close to 30 years. Since 1992, M&T Bank and its executives have contributed nearly $5 million to the BPO.

From a time in the early 1980s when Buffalo and its orchestra faced significant financial challenges, M&T saw an opportunity to give back to its community. With the bank's help, the BPO was able to re-engage and transition its board of trustees and recruit a new chairman. Positive changes allowed the BPO to move forward, build its audience and stabilize its finances.

Today, the BPO is stronger than ever, but is still reaching for a crescendo. This endowment campaign will enable the BPO to strengthen its position locally and internationally. Funds raised through this campaign will:

•Raise the endowment well past the $50 million mark. National statistics show a healthy orchestra should have an endowment at least five times its operating budget. The BPO's current endowment is at $34 million with an annual operating budget of $11 million.

•Support educational initiatives through the establishment of the Next Generation Education Fund. This $10 million endowment fund will help expand the Music for Youth concert series, bring musicians into classrooms and grow educational outreach to over 50,000 students a year - the BPO currently serves about 40,000 students annually.

•Expand collaborations with other culturals in the area to produce innovative, creative, new works.

•Support the overall operation of the BPO through annual income from the investments made.

Chairman of the Board Lou Ciminelli said, "M&T Bank is committed to sustaining Buffalo's renaissance and we are so happy that they are invested in the future of our orchestra. It is my hope that this gift will inspire others - especially our corporate leaders - to give to the BPO, an institution that enriches the fabric of our community."

Upon receipt of the gift, Ange Fatta, co-chairman of the BPO "Crescendo Campaign," said, "M&T Bank has been and continues to be a BPO champion in our Buffalo community. We are so grateful for their commitment over the years in helping the orchestra grow and develop. I have no doubt that this gift will encourage others to join M&T Bank in preserving our orchestra for generations to come."

For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit www.bpo.org

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