Scranton’s arts and culture council unveiled

The Arts — By on May 16, 2008 at 11:40 am

The latest initiative in efforts to revitalize the arts and cultural life of the Greater Scranton area was unveiled Monday night with the formal introduction of the Lackawanna County Council on Arts, Culture and Education to the community.

According to Maureen McGuigan, Deputy Director of Arts and Culture for the county, the council will advise county officials on ways to best serve Lackawanna County in the area of arts and culture including policy making, procedures and programming.

“My goal is to create a working council with a strong presence in the community who can help,” said McGuigan. The council will divide into subcommittees including grants and finance management that will examine grant programs for individual artists and organizations. Committees on marketing and outreach will aim to increase diversity and to reach all the municipalities in the county, while a programming committee will help assess and create programming for residents.

The council emerged when two previous councils – the Arts Council and the Council on Education and Culture – were combined. The two earlier councils had been formed in 2004 at the initiation of the special millage for arts and culture (approximately $1 million a year) but a cultural plan for the county suggested that the councils would be more effective working together because they had similar areas of focus.

Council members were selected following a public call and review of applications. “We were looking for a wide range of backgrounds, talents, experience and interests to best reflect the arts and culture needs of Lackawanna County,” said McGuigan.

The council includes Susan S. Belin, Sally Bohlin, Colleen Carter, Geraldine Colleran, William Czachor, Mark DeStefano, Geri Featherby, Eleanore Ginader, Alicia Grega, Christina Irving, Ann Kennedy, Robert Lettieri, Joyce Lomma, Phil Marchse, the Rev. Stephen Matylewicz, Laurie Mecca, Sondra Myers, Awilda Rodriguez, Robert Savinkinus, Kristen Roberts, Mary Beth Stanvitch, Roya Swartz, Wendy Wilson, as well as North Pocono High School student Kristen Perroti who will help develop a youth arts council for high schools students.

Along with announcing the Council on Arts, Culture and Education, the county has been busy recently with artistic endeavors. Starting June 6, courthouse square in downtown Scranton will host free summer concerts every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. Arts in the Park programs are planned at McDade Park in Scranton and Merli-Sarnoski in Carbondale. The county will partner with the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority on Heritage Explorer, an educational, fun and affordable train ride through the Lackawanna Valley with entertainment and activities for children.

The county is a sponsor of the The Scranhatten Festival, a downtown arts festival set for the July 4 weekend on Spruce Street and Penn Avenue in Scranton, as well as two projects by the Abington Joint Recreation Board – a community garden project and summer program for middle school students.

McGuigan noted that county grant applications are available for download. Grants are due in October and any artist or organization interested in an arts project is encouraged to apply.

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