May Letter from The Board

Art by Mia Gority

Happy May – my favorite month of the year!

So much is going on with ArtsAltoona!  Our board, staff, volunteers and leadership team have all been hard at work advancing our mission in many ways!

After School Arts Program – ASAP

Annie Bickel, who we have dubbed our Director of Curriculum Development for our After School Arts Program, has been doing a fabulous job of planning, implementing and managing a thousand details and tasks necessary for each ASAP session to be successful.

We concluded the first 2019 ASAP session with a special gallery exhibition at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art Altoona. Thanks to everyone involved – Annie, for her organization, Lynne Magee for teaching the students some wonderful art techniques, SAMA Altoona for being gracious hosts in their beautiful facility, Kim Aboud for organizing the food, decor, etc., the sponsors who attended to meet the students and appreciate their art, several board members who contributed food and beverages (especially Korin Coppeta for the Little Caesar’s Pizza), Zack Rackovan of Foundry Design Works ( for his artistry in creating the invitation, and especially the students and family members who participated and attended.  While there everyone was able to view the exhibit displays by local artist Billie Hollen and by Gary Jurysta. Having the opportunity for the students to see this inspiring work was wonderful.

Our current ASAP class, Art in Motion, is nearing its end.  Thanks to KT Huckabee from Penn State Altoona who has been our instructor for this session and Erin as her assistant!  They have been working with the students to conceptualize a piece of art and then to convert it into movement. Thanks to board member Dr. Charles Prijatelj, Superintendent of the Altoona Area School District we were able to hold these classes at the junior high school gymnasium, making it very convenient for the students. The nine week class will wrap up on June 4. We will be having an informal presentation from the students to demonstrate what they have learned about expression over the session. If you would be interested in joining us, please email me at dgority@artsaltoona and I will share the details with you once they are finalized.

Our first ever summer camp ASAP will be held at Evergreen Manors for junior high age residents there. It is being called Zen Art Camp and the instructor is Jenn Binus who has extensive experience teaching art classes in settings like the YMCA and the Altoona Area Public Library. She recently completed her Master’s in Adult and Community Education and has had a lifelong passion for all kinds of art. The classes will be held on June 11 and 12, then June 17 through 21 from 10am to 12:30pm. They are free to participants thanks to our contributors.

Studio Arts Center – Kress Building

We have completed the preliminary planning phase with Architect Judy Coutts. We have the drawings that she created for us to use with potential funders, etc. We are applying through CareerLink for several young people to be funded to help with demolition work over the summer. Board member Ken Decker is working with Penelec and electricians to determine what it will take to get basic electric service into the building for the demo phase. we will need to identify sources of funding for this project.

Make Music Day

The planning is continuing for the first official Make Music Day Altoona.  We are signing up venues and musicians to participate on June 21. Check out the latest at

Website/YouTube/Social Media

Our team has been working to create a new and improved website. Please check it out at and let us know what you think! You will also notice that the calendar now has a LOT more events. We have our social media guru, Makala Doyle, harvesting events from websites and Facebook posts to add to the calendar, instead of relying just on organizations to post their own events. Makala is a Penn State Altoona student who first started working with us as a Sheetz Fellow working on the stART here event last spring and who has been working with us on various aspects of improving our outreach through social media since then. She is very gifted, hard working and is delightful to work with! She is also creating original posts for our Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram. We still continue to share many community events related to arts, culture, history and heritage on our Facebook page in support of all the wonderful organizations in the area. Please invite your friends to Like us on Facebook and make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Did you know that we have a YouTube channel?  Our wonderful board member and Marketing Chair, Kim Aboud, has been working very hard coordinating with board member Tiffany Stuckey, who interviews local artists and representatives of arts organizations for us. Our new fabulously talented videographer is Draper Brown. We have started posting the ArtsAltoona Talks shows weekly. you can find them on our Facebook page, YouTube and website.  Please spread the word!

Blair County Arts Festival Student Art Exhibit

This past weekend was the 52nd Arts Festival presented by the Blair County Arts Foundation.  I have always enjoyed going to the festivals and enjoying all aspects of it – juried art, music, dance, vendors, food and especially the student art exhibit. This year I was very excited when I noticed that several pieces of art in the Altoona Area High School section were done by my husband’s and my grand niece, Amelia Gority. She also goes by Mia and she really loves creating art. Mia will be a senior next year.  I’ve attached one of her pieces of art that was on display. I hope you enjoy it!

I hope to see you out and about at all the wonderful things happening in the area.  When you see me, please come and say “Hi!”