Artsbridge holds reception to thank donors

Each year, Artsbridge works to raise money for arts programs in Wood, Washington and Morgan counties, from providing grants to local arts organizations and programs to bringing arts education programs to local schools.

Artsbridge kicked off this year’s United Arts Fund Campaign in April with the goal of raising $75,000 during this year’s fund drive, said Artsbridge Executive Director Jane Irvine.

The fund drive has raised more than $71,000 as of Friday and donations are still being accepted. A donor reception was held Friday evening at the Artsbridge office at 925 Market St. in downtown Parkersburg to recognize the individual and business donors who have helped, Irvine said.

“This is not the end of the fund drive,” she said Friday. “This is simply a way of us thanking our donors. We decided to do it in June before we lost a lot of people to vacations.”

Irvine said the goal is lower than previous years because Artsbridge chose to separate out foundation funding and grants.

“The $75,000 is actually individual donors and corporate donors,” she said.

One donation Artsbridge officials considered special involved an 11-year-old Marietta boy giving $45 from his piggy bank.

Although donations are accepted year-round, the fund drive is a period of increased emphasis that runs from April through June.

“We can’t exist without fundraising,” said Cathy Martin, secretary of the Artsbridge Board of Directors.

The agency applies for and receives grants and other funding “but the individual people who contribute are really becoming the backbone of what we are doing. Tonight is celebrating those people… and companies that have contributed,” she said.

The United Arts Fund helps finance events like the Very Spectacular Arts Festival, an annual event exposing special-needs students to art activities; the Artsbridge Summer Music Series; and the Arts Encounter, a new event held in May which aims to expose middle school students to theater and painting experiences.

Irvine said the inaugural Arts Encounter was successful, providing an opportunity for 60 Wood County middle-schoolers to visit and try activities at the Artsbridge office, the Parkersburg Art Center and the Actors Guild of Parkersburg.

Artsbridge hopes to hold another Arts Encounter, this time in Washington County, in November or next spring.

Rhonda Poling, vice president of Artsbridge West Virginia for the Artsbridge Board of Directors, said the board is pleased with the direction Artsbridge is moving in for the future.

“We have some exciting new ideas for the future. With our new space (at 925 Market St.), we would like to offer new opportunities for cultural events and educational events for all ages and all of the communities here,” she said.