Community Foundation awards $50,000 to support rural arts programs in county
In an effort to bring arts programs to rural areas of the county, Berks County Community Foundation has awarded seven grants totaling $50,000 to support live theater in elementary schools, an arts festival, concerts, and more.
The Community Foundation created the Berks County Arts Fund to encourage local residents to support the arts in Berks County through their donations. In 2014, the Community Foundation’s board of directors approved a grant of $50,000 per year for five years from the Hawley and Myrtle Quier Fund to the Berks County Arts Fund to support arts programming in outlying areas of Berks County where residents do not have ready access to the offerings provided by the established arts community.
Programs include performances, exhibits, interactive activities, or other creative ideas in townships and boroughs where the Community Foundation’s Vital Signs reports noted that people were least likely to have experienced an art event in the previous year.
“Our local artists and performers are creating new ways to reach rural audiences in their own communities, and those audiences have been appreciative of the effort,” said Heidi Williamson, the Community Foundation’s Vice President for Programs and Initiatives.
This year’s rural arts grants include:
$15,660 to The Yocum Institute for Arts Education for its Jazz Fest for Kids, a program that will bring a live performance of the jazz story The Fisherman and His Wife to 3,000 Berks County elementary school students. In addition to the performances, Yocum Institute will provide pre-show study guides for teachers to use with their students and Yocum-led post-show science and art workshops with the children. The performances and workshops will be held at elementary schools in the Hamburg Area, Oley Valley, Tulpehocken Area and Twin Valley school districts.
In 2016, Yocum received a grant from the Rural Arts Program to bring the jazz story performance of Balloonacy to thousands of elementary students in Berks County.
• $13,500 to the Our Town Foundation in Hamburg for its Arts In Hamburg initiative, which includes ongoing programs such as the spring Arts Fest, a public art initiative that involves residents in the creation of a piece of public art, and cultural performances at the Hamburg Strand Theater.
• $4,520 to Art in the Fields to manage a visiting artist series for the Alsace Township Summer Playground program. The program will culminate in a community event to showcase the various forms of art that were created.
• $4,520 to Clay on Main to continue the program it began in 2015 of setting up booths at local festivals where people can create and decorate their own pieces of art. In addition, in winter Clay on Main will bring fused glass workshops to rural communities.
• $4,500 to the Reading Choral Society to bring its Summer Sing! program to two additional communities. The Reading Choral Society invites local residents to be part of a day of music, where they learn the pieces early in the morning, practice and perfect mid-day, and perform in the evening. The concerts traditionally draw 50 to 60 singers ranging in age from 18 to 80. The outreach concerts will be held at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Hamburg and New Life Bible Fellowship Church in Oley.
• $4,000 to the Reading Pops for a side-byside concert at Oley Valley High School in an effort to repeat the successful side-by-side concert held at Tulpehocken High School in 2015. A side-byside concert allows Berks County students to practice, play, and perform with the Reading Pops musicians.
• $3,300 to the Ringgold Band for a traditional Americana concert at the band shell at Hamburg Community Park in 2017. Berks County Community Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that serves as a civic leader for our region by developing, managing and distributing funds to meet existing and emerging community needs. More information is available at www.bccf. org.
Berks County entrepreneurs and owners of Comfort Keepers – Berks County, Dave Kendall and Jennifer Mish, were recently awarded the “Operational Excellence” award by CK Franchising, Inc, the franchiser of Comfort Keepers. The award was announced during the Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony at the Comfort Keepers Leadership Conference in Henderson, NV.
2016’s award was the 4th consecutive year for this prestigious award recognizing operational excellence by consistently delivering quality in-home care and living assistance to seniors. Kendall & Mish, selected from over 650 Comfort Keepers franchises nationwide, also received the award in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Criteria for the award include overall client satisfaction for quality service, caregiver satisfaction, and community involvement.
“This is indeed an honor,” said Kendall, “to be recognized not only by our clients, but also by our family of caregivers who provide patient-centered personal care to Berks County communities. That is the hallmark of Comfort Keepers. It just doesn’t get any better than that.”