Last updated: August 01. 2014 10:28AM - 136 Views
By Marilyn Delk

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Although Darke County Endowment for the Arts has been around for more than two decades, the organization remains pretty much under the radar for most folks. The endowment exists to keep the arts alive forever here in Darke County, a goal that should inspire interest and commitment from those who believe that the arts are essential to life. DCEA receives and manages charitable gifts that are invested to produce income to benefit the arts; some of those gifts go into a General Fund from which annual grants are awarded to deserving local applicants.

This year, those grant recipients include Friends of Bear’s Mill, who will use the funds to support “Art at the Mill” which features outstanding visual artists displaying their work in the historic local landmark’s gallery, and Greenville Municipal Concert Band’s summer concert series in Greenville City Park, a local tradition enjoyed by music lovers of all ages. Greenville School’s partnership with Muse Machine also received assistance; Muse Machine offers in-school performances, artists workshops, professional development for teachers, performance opportunities for students, and the possibility of attending professional performances at prestigious regional performing art centers; Greenville Junior High and Senior High students will gain exciting involvement with the performing arts through this partnership with Muse Machine.

An art studio in Arcanum requested and received funds to purchase tools and supplies necessary for students to learn and grow from hands-on arts experiences; Fall In October Art Studio provides group and private painting classes as well as classes in clay sculpture for all ages, and a summer art camp for youngsters. Broadening and expanding the range of instruction for youthful art camp participants who have few local opportunities to achieve their artistic goals easily fulfills the Endowment’s mission to further arts education.

But providing grant money is not all that the Endowment does. DCEA is a sponsor of Darke County Center for the Arts’ presentation of a summer theatre residency by Missoula Children’s Theatre.

The Anna Bier Gallery’s “Art Start” program providing funds for local high school art departments to purchase vital supplies is another worthwhile endeavor underwritten by DCEA.

The endowment also maintains a fund dedicated to the preservation of historic Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall which has contributed to the purchase of the upgraded technical equipment necessary to meet the demands of today’s performing artists. DCEA’s most visible recent contribution to the Hall would be the restoration of those stunningly beautiful stained glass windows that adorn the cherished building. Dangerously deteriorating due to age and weather conditions in spite of an earlier restoration during the Hall’s renovation in the 1980’s, the Endowment undertook the action necessary to assure the survival of those glorious crowning jewels.

And when the opportunity for receiving state funds to help maintain and improve Memorial Hall arose, DCEA provided the detailed information required that resulted in the recently announced $500,000 grant secured through the efforts of Senators Keith Faber and William Beagle, among others. DCEA is currently working with Greenville City Schools,who own the treasured building, and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to bring about needed renovations. Although not directly a part of the state grant, the first visible improvement will soon appear; the sign announcing events at St. Clair Memorial Hall will see extensive improvement through funding provided by the Endowment.

Additionally, another fund of Darke County Endowment for the Arts supports Darke County Center for the Arts, receiving and managing donations meant to further DCCA’s mission to present and promote the arts to culturally enrich our community. Darke County Endowment for the Arts may be working behind the scenes, but its mission is quite visibly being achieved, benefiting the arts in myriad ways within our community. Now you know. For more information on how you can help, contact any of the following Endowment trustees and officers: Suzanne Brown, Marilyn Delk, David Feltman, Tom Graber, Barbara Greiner, Becky Hartnagle, Andrea Jordan and Julie Strait.

Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at marilynd@bright.net. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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