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West Virginia Division of Culture and History announces grant recipients


In September, the West Virginia Commission on the Arts (WVCA) of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, awarded $93,428 in Challenge America grants to eight arts organizations, college and university community outreach programs, and schools in West Virginia. The WVCA also approved an additional $1,955,802 in awards to 15 applicants through the Cultural Facilities and Capital Resources Grant (CFCRG) program.

Challenge America encourages arts organizations to offer outreach programs that will extend programs into adjacent communities. Areas of focus include: arts education, access to the arts, community arts development, positive alternatives for youth, and cultural heritage/preservation.

All projects must represent new programs or an expansion of existing arts programming. Successful grant applicants are required to provide a three-to-five match for the funds (i.e., three dollars for every five dollars granted).

This year’s Challenge America recipients include Appalachian Women’s Leadership Project, Lincoln County, $15,000 for Unearthing Heritage: Ceramic Artist Residency and Positive Alternatives for Youth Project; Carnegie Hall Inc., Greenbrier County, $900 for Project Bravo: Arts in Education; Greenbrier Valley Theatre, Greenbrier County, $9,000 for WVU School Tour Residency: Arts Alternatives for Youth; High Rocks Educational Corporation, Pocahontas County, $8,528 for Positive Alternatives for Youth Project: Artist Residency and Access to Performing Arts Program; Huntington Museum of Art, Cabell County, $15,000 for Museum Making Connections: Arts in Education Project; Museum in the Community, Putnam County, $15,000 for African American Art and Culture Outreach and Exhibition Audience Development: Community Access, Heritage, and Positive Alternatives for Youth; Step by Step, Lincoln County, $15,000 for Dream Weaver: Urban/Rural Cultural Exchange, Artist Residency, and Positive Alternatives for Youth; and Wheeling Symphony Society, Ohio County, $15,000 for Voices and Music: Artist Residency and Positive Alternatives for Youth.

Challenge America grants are provided by the National Endowment for the Arts funds and state lottery proceeds approved by the West Virginia Legislature.

The CFCRG program encourages local support, both public and private, for renovation or construction of performance, exhibition or artist’s spaces, and for capital purchases for those facilities. Priority is given to projects that increase or assure public access to the arts, serve multiple counties, and for collaborations that leverage additional public and private investment. Other factors include projects that contribute to economic development, address known health and safety deficiencies, and provide accessibility for those with disabilities.

The 15 award recipients for 2003 include The Aurora Project, Inc., Preston County, $250,000 for renovation; The Boarman Arts Center, Berkeley County, $324,000 for renovation; City of Charleston, Kanawha County, $84,332 for renovation and durable equipment; Grant County Public Library, $250,000 for new construction; Bluefield High School Foundation, Inc., Mercer County, $300,000 for renovation and new construction; Mason County Schools, $230,069 for renovation; Landmark Studio for the Arts, Braxton County, $16,000 for property acquisition; Charleston Ballet, Kanawha County, $7,580 for durable equipment; Craik-Patton Inc., Kanawha County, $116,555 for renovation; Wyoming East Foundation, Wyoming County, $90,000 for new construction; Smoot Theatre Corporation, Wood County, $18,571 for renovation; Main Street Ripley, Jackson County, $155,000 for renovation; Mountain Made Foundation, Tucker County, $59,500 for renovation; Strand Theatre Preservation Society, Marshall County, $49,500 for renovation and Those Who Served War Museum, Mercer County, $4,695 for exhibition enhancement.

Eligible organizations must be not-for-profit, tax-exempt West Virginia corporations or an agency of municipal or county government, including county school boards. Grants can be awarded for equipment, such as sound and lighting systems, and acquisition, renovation or construction including alterations needed to comply with the 1974 Rehabilitation Act or the 1990 American Disabilities Act.Five levels of funding are available: $2,500 - $24,999; $25,000 - $49,999; $50,000 - $99,999; $100,000 - $299,999; and $300,000 - $500,000. Applicants must match grants on an equal dollar-for-dollar basis. The CFCRG program is funded through state lottery proceeds.

For more information about Challenge America grants, contact Richard Ressmeyer, director of the arts for the Division, at (304) 558-0240, ext. 721. Rose McDonough, CFCRG program coordinator for the Division, can be reached at (304) 558-0240, ext. 152.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.