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'It's a Wonderful Life,' Banking in Bedford Falls

'It's a Wonderful Life,' Banking in Bedford Falls

Posted: January 28, 2015

In the happily-ever-after ending of It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s easy to forget that Mr. Potter got away with the eight grand. On Thursday, January 29, three panelists will discuss the film and its depiction of the financial services industry at the Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State. The event is free and open to the public.

The scheduled panelists are Joelle LeClaire, associate professor of economics at Buffalo State and author of The Great Deficit Debacle; Geoff Kelly, editor of the newly created alternative media the Public, and Bruce Fisher, visiting professor and director of Buffalo State’s Center for Economic and Policy Studies.

The evening begins at 7:00 p.m. with a screening of the film; the discussion follows. The event is part of Ideas Prime, a series held at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Ideas Prime is described as “a forum for an exchange of ideas designed to understand how local, global, and cultural issues are interrelated.”

"A museum isn’t just a place to warehouse past glories or present blockbuster exhibitions. It’s also a place where people can shape their culture," said Scott Propeack, associate director and chief curator of the Burchfield Penney. "We want to give people a place where they can explore many cultural issues from different perspectives. The Economics and Finance Department at Buffalo State is one of our best partners.”

The screening and discussion of It’s a Wonderful Life is the first of ten public events that are part of an economics course for juniors and seniors majoring in economics and finance. The course is taught by Fisher, a native Western New Yorker who worked as a journalist, a political campaign veteran, and a government official before joining Buffalo State.

"This series gives the greater Buffalo community the opportunity to hear experts discuss economic issues and how they relate to individuals and Western New York,” said Fisher. "The Burchfield Penney is a wonderful venue. It's a public place that welcomes Buffalo State students, faculty, and community members. Plus it's easy to get to, and there is plenty of parking."

The idea of Buffalo—and especially Buffalo State, by far the largest college within the city limits—as a place where inquiring people come to learn, discuss, and explore public issues, the humanities, and science appeals enormously to Fisher. "It’s part of who we are," he said. "Think of the Pan-American Exhibition, the Chautauqua Institution." Fisher also argues that cities that once depended on heavy industry need such destinations. "The cities that are progressing are the ones that are using art and culture to move from has-beens to nexts," he said.

The remaining nine presentations include the films Trillion Dollar Bet; Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room; and Client #9. In addition to a number of professors, bankers, and journalists, panel participants tentatively include former congressman Tom Reynolds, developer Carl Paladino, and congressmen Chris Collins and Brian Higgins. The presentations, which are free and open to the public, take place Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

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