January Letter From the Board

By January 18, 2018 Uncategorized

Greetings Friends of ArtsAltoona!

What a month this has been for ArtsAltoona!  Retreat…News Conference…Architecture Professor and Student Visit..Americans for the Arts..After-School Arts Program Kickoff…and so much more!


We had a great retreat with our ArtsAltoona volunteers and staff coming together to get to know one another better, to get everyone focused on the work ahead for each of our workgroups (Education, Events, Social Media, Building, and Fundraising) for the next 30/60/90 days to a year. We heard the history of the organization and words of inspiration from our visionary leader, George Sackandy.  We participated as the first “focus group” for the Harwood Project lead by Jennifer Knisely, Executive Director of the Blair County Library System. It is a process for identifying community aspirations and what is needed to change in the community to reach those aspirations.  Many thanks to the Fiore family for allowing us to use their very special farm house for our retreat and thanks to all who attended and participated so enthusiastically with the group work. Thanks also to Rue Moyer for sharing some of his musical talent with us as we were getting settled in for the retreat.

Studio Arts Center, a Project of ArtsAltoona

That is what it says on a huge banner across the former Kress building at 1406 Eleventh Avenue in downtown Altoona! Thanks to our Artist in Residence, Kendyl Ramsey for her great work on designing the banner.  The next time you go by make sure to notice how she drew from a decorative element on the building to incorporate the graphic on the banner! Love the creativity of our team members! You probably saw some of the coverage from our news conference announcing our ownership of the building.  We are very appreciative that we had the Altoona Mirror, WTAJ TV, WJAC TV, and Jim Gregory/WRTA all represented.  Thanks to all who came to hear Ken Decker, our Building Workgroup leader, and Tom Shafer from PennState Altoona and our connector with the Penn State University Sustainable Communities Collaborative talk about the future plans for the building.  We are very thankful to Jamale Graves and the Allegheny Ballet Company for allowing us to use their top floor dance studio overlooking our building as the site of our news conference. We were very fortunate to have many community leaders accept our invitation to attend the event and the post-event reception downstairs at the Railroad City Brewing Company. Thanks Matt Winrick for opening early for our private reception in your wonderful facility.

Since the media conference, Ken has been focused on the initial clean out of the facility.  When the building was shut down several years ago a LOT of furnishings and stuff was left behind.  We are very grateful that Tony Scaglione II from Tony’s Estate Services and Antiques has brought his expertise, his staff and his truck to help with the enormous task at hand. The quick work was necessitated by a visit earlier this week from architecture students with their professors from Penn State’s University Park campus. They have agreed to take us on through the Sustainable Communities Collaborative to develop concept plans for the building as part of a semester-long project. They will also be considering issues such as parking, artists collaboration, accessibility, energy consumption and saving, and historic renovation/restoration work in their analysis and recommendations.  We are thrilled to have been selected to have this opportunity and are very excited to see what they present to us in a couple months!

After-School Arts Program (ASAP)

Our after-school program is off to a great start thanks to our Education Director, Stephenie Schroth, her workgroup members and all of the wonderful artists who have come forward to be part of the program.  We have joined the Americans for the Arts and had a conference call with them where they shared some of the resources available to Stephenie and her team as the program continues to be developed and implemented. Our first program is being done in cooperation with Evergreen Manors, a project of Improved Dwellings of Altoona. Their Services Coordinator, Shannon Moyer, has been a great partner with ArtsAltoona in putting the program together for the junior and senior high school age kids who reside there. Stephenie organized a Meet the Artists events to kickoff the program to the youth and their families on Friday, January 12, then the first class was held this past Tuesday, as an “Intro to the Arts.” We know it is just the beginning of many engaging classes yet to come.  Thanks again to Steph, her team of educators and artists and to our hosts at Evergreen!

Much more is happening, so stay tuned,