Several art, theater and other cultural assets were among the 27 Fayette County businesses and organizations recently awarded $470,558 in tourism grants.
While the county is known for their recreational and historic assets, one of the keys to the region’s continued tourism success is the diversity and variety of activities available to residents and visitors alike, including organizations that highlight the creative and performing arts.
The ceremony’s host, the State Theatre was one of the grant recipients, receiving a $30,000 marketing grant, a $5,000 operational grant and a $18,655 capital grant. Opened in 1922 as a movie palace and vaudeville house, the State Theatre will use the funds from the marketing grant for a multimedia marketing campaign to include print, television and digital advertising targeted areas. The operational grant will fund the theater’s utilities, while the capital grant will be invested in upgrades to the dressing rooms and enhancements to lighting and the electrical system.
In addition, Touchstone Center for Crafts also received three grants – a $13,500 marketing grant, $2,106 capital grant and $5,000 operating grant. Touchstone is Pennsylvania’s only residential craft school and plans to use the marketing grant to create and distribute a brochure, highly targeted digital and print ads in arts and crafts publications and to pay for admission to regional art conferences. The capital grant will fund the replacement of kiln shelves, while the operational grant will cover the center’s operating expenses.
In addition, a $7,300 marketing grant presented to the National Road Heritage Corridor, which promotes the cultural, historic, natural and recreational resources along Pennsylvania’s historic National Road, will help promote “Front Line Paper,” a collaborative project with the center focused on veterans.
The Uniontown Art Club Inc. received a $5,500 marketing grant and a $10,700 capital grant. The art club, located in Uniontown’s business district, will invest the funds in developing a brochure, marketing in print, radio and social media, along with making improvements to the club’s facility.
Home to the Connellsville Area Historical Museum, the Carnegie Free Library of Connellsville received a $15,000 capital grant, which it plans to use to create a new state-of-the-art media center. In addition, the Fayette County Cultural Trust will use a $2,653 marketing grant to continue marketing downtown Connellsville’s assets – walking tours, pubic art projects and festivals – the cyclists passing through the city on the Great Allegheny Passage.
The Mon Valley Academy for the Arts has a pending marketing grant of $2,000, which the MVAA plans to use for a multimedia marketing campaign promoting “The Power of Music,” a six-part concert series to be held at the Cast Iron Amphitheater in Brownsville.
Two businesses dedicated to quilting enthusiasts were presented with marketing grants. Amy’s Quilt Room, a full-service quilt shop and classroom in Uniontown, received a $7,853 marketing grant, which will be used to promote their schedule of events, including the spring 2020 Quilt-A-Palooza Retreat; while Seams Like Home Quilting Retreat B&B, a unique lodging asset that caters to cyclists on the Great Allegheny Passage, quilting groups and visitors to the region’s Frank Lloyd Wright properties – Kentucky Knob and Fallingwater – received a marketing grant of $3,700 to make them easier to find with directional signage and a marketing campaign targeting sewing and quilting enthusiasts in the Pittsburgh region.
The annual tourism grant program is funded by 50% of revenues generated by the 3% hotel room tax in the county enacted in 2008 and funneled back into tourism assets. The program is administered by county commissioners and the Laurel Highlands Visitor’s Bureau. Since the program began, more than $5.1 million has been awarded.
Ann Nemanic, executive director of LHVB, presented the grants at a special ceremony on Feb. 3 at the State Theatre of the Arts in Uniontown.
For the third year in a row, the county has experienced “exponential Rowan in the tourism sector.”
Fayette County, Nemanic explained, is vital to not only the region’s tourism success, but all of western Pennsylvania and the entire state because it is a gateway to several other markets, including the District of Columbia/Maryland markets, which is an important one.
“You are making a difference,” added Nemanic. “Let’s make it a fourth year in a row.”
New county commissioner Scott Dunn, who attended the ceremony along with the two other commissioners, said “We are a blessed area,” said Dunn. “To be able to promote that even more is such a tremendous asset.”