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Arts and Culture Sector is Struggling – the PACF Takes Initiative

Wood County’s arts and culture sector is feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in a big way. Area agencies and artists are dealing with cancellations of shows and closure of venues, and for many, these cancellations are putting a financial strain on organizational operations.

For example, the Smoot Theatre and the Actors Guild of Parkersburg had to cancel numerous performances and programs that provide income.  The Parkersburg Art Center’s income has been impacted significantly due to the cancellation of classes and the inability to rent their venue space.  At the same time, these organizations have taken innovative approaches to continuing to offer services in new ways.

While many of the area’s cultural and arts institutions were able to access federal CARES act loans and grants to help them through this challenging time, more support is needed to ensure that these critical community organizations can remain sustainable. The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) is stepping up to help.

The PACF recognizes the importance of investing in our community’s arts and cultural resources as they play a major role in community development and tourism, personal and community enrichment, and individual well-being. Several arts organizations are anchors for downtown Parkersburg development and revitalization.  Recently, the Foundation reached out to Wood County’s arts and culture community to identify needs and opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foundation then recruited assistance from participants in its Civic Leaders Fellowship Program to review each organization’s needs and award relief grants.

Last week, the PACF awarded a total of $16,000 in operating support grants to five area agencies: West Virginia Symphony Orchestra – Parkersburg, Smoot Theatre, Artsbridge, Parkersburg Art Center, and Actors Guild of Parkersburg

These grants will provide needed and immediate assistance to help each of the organizations during this unprecedented time. With the many unknowns facing our country and community in the upcoming weeks and months due to the pandemic, the PACF encourages area citizens to continue supporting area arts and culture programs.

There are a variety of ways to continue to engage with these important community organizations - participate in online classes, workshops, and performances hosted by area arts groups, donate tickets to cancelled events and membership dues back to the organization in lieu of a refund, donate directly to your favorite agency, and encourage friends and family to get involved.

Individuals who would like to make an impact in the region’s arts and culture community are encouraged to contact the Foundation at 304-428-4438 to discuss options and opportunities to make a meaningful difference.

Parkersburg Area Community Foundation Awards Scholarships

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates (PACF) is pleased to announce that a total of $368,439 in scholarship support was recently awarded to 198 area students to assist in their pursuit of post-secondary education.  These scholarships are made possible by the generous support of individuals and businesses who believe in the importance of education and who have partnered with the Foundation to create permanent scholarship funds.

“The average cost of college at both public and private institutions continues to increase annually.  Not only are students and parents worried about tuition and fees, but they are also concerned about costs for books, housing, transportation, and much more,” said Rachel Brezler, PACF’s Regional Scholarships Officer. “We’re here to help parents and students easily navigate the scholarship process and provide meaningful financial assistance for college.”

Brezler believes that the scholarship funds managed by the PACF are extremely helpful for students working to achieve their academic goals.

“Scholarships are sent straight to the college/university to be directly applied to the student’s account,” said Brezler. “This approach minimizes administrative details for students and eases financial worries as well as makes sure that the funds go for their intended purposes.  While most existing scholarships are directed to graduating high school seniors, a few exist for students whose undergraduate degree program is already underway or for graduate level education.”

As the cost for post-secondary education continues to rise, the PACF encourages individuals concerned about the academic future of our region’s young people to partner with the Foundation.  Individuals can volunteer on the PACF’s Scholarship Fund Committee, donate to build a current scholarship fund, or create a new scholarship fund. Together we can make a meaningful difference for our community’s next generation.

To see a full list of the 2020 scholarship awards and to learn more about the PACF, visit the Foundation’s website at www.pacfwv.com/scholarships or call 304.428.4438.

Memorial Fund Created to Forever Honor Robert E. Lowe, Jr.

Robert Lowe, Jr.Robert E. Lowe, Jr. wore many hats.  He was a husband, father, teacher, musician, and community advocate to name just a few.  The son of Gayle and the late Robert Lowe Sr., Lowe graduated from Wirt County High School in 1977.  After graduating he continued to West Virginia University where he played the trombone in the marching band and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in music education. 

Lowe took every opportunity to share his love of music with others.  He assisted the band program at Wirt County High School as well as mentored several young aspiring musicians.  In 2001, Lowe was elected to the Wirt County Commission.  He is recognized as the longest continuous serving Wirt County Commissioner to date.  In addition to his duties as a Commissioner, he also operated a sawmill for many years.

Robert passed away on August 3, 2019 at the age of 60.  To honor Lowe’s memory and his love of music, his family established the Robert E. Lowe, Jr. Memorial Scholarship fund with the Little Kanawha Area Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation.  This fund will forever award scholarships to graduating seniors from Wirt County High School who plan to pursue a degree in a music or arts field of study. 

Matt and Kristina LoweLowe is survived by his wife, Cindy Lowe; two children, Matt and Kristina Lowe; and brother, Richard Lowe.

Individuals who would like to make a tax-deductible donation to support this new fund are encouraged to send a check made payable to the PACF with “Robert Lowe Memorial” on the memo line to:  PACF, PO Box 1762, Parkersburg, WV 26102. Donations may also be made online through the Foundation's website.  Individuals wishing to learn more about this fund can call the Foundation at 304.428.4438.

 

Picture captions: 

(top)  Robert E. Lowe, Jr. 

(bottom)  Robert Lowe's children, Kristina and Matt Lowe

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