1889 Foundation today announced a cooperative funding agreement that will provide matching funds for capital improvements to four cultural entities in Cambria City, and eventually more cultural entities in Cambria and Somerset Counties through a cultural partnership to be established.

Phase I of the partnership will include the Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center, Johnstown Concert Ballet, The Steeples Project, and Venue of Merging Arts (VOMA). 1889 Foundation will commit $400,000 as a matching grant for capital improvements at these organizations. Capital improvements are defined as improvements that add value to facilities, including expansions, renovations, or significant maintenance.

As a part of the agreement, Jeanne Gleason will assist in carrying out the collaboration as a neutral community leader.  Gleason is well-known across the Commonwealth as an advocate of the arts, and is a former chair and current council member of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She has served as a board member for a wide range of arts organizations, including the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and is a former executive director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra. The Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center will serve as the fiscal conduit for grant funds.

“This collaboration  is very special because it endorses the impact that the arts, their many volunteers on their boards, the neighborhood, as well as the arts consumers make toward the good of the Cambria/Somerset region,” Jeanne Gleason said. “Their year-round outreach affects the vitality of our community and proves that, as in many other cities, the arts lead economic, inspirational and inclusive renewal for many.”

Following the successful completion of the year-long Phase I,  additional 1889 Foundation matching funds of up to $800,000 will be committed over a two-year period for further capital improvements in Phase II along with a goal to establish a formal partnership of the four entities.

In Phase III, the goal is to expand the partnership beyond Cambria City and include more arts organizations in Cambria and Somerset Counties.  Another goal is also to consolidate management and operational services of the partners into the new, regional organization, and leverage contributions from other funders as a match for more 1889 Foundation funds.

“These founding partners recognize that if they collaborate, cooperate and support each other, they can more rapidly continue to enhance and expand their facilities and programs to strengthen the community and act as a model in the region,” Gleason explained. “The individual boards of the founding partners have agreed to organize, work together to share talent, planning and resources to present a more unified and efficient delivery of the arts through this collaborative effort.”

“As we strive to enhance and improve the quality of life in our region, we will continue using ‘collaboration’ as our theme in order to achieve lasting change toward wellness and healthy lifestyles by supporting the best in creative community spaces,” said Sue Mann, president of 1889 Foundation.

Existing collaborations 1889 Foundation has funded in whole or in part include:

  • The 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health, a collaboration with the Jefferson College of Population Health
  • The United Way of the Laurel Highlands’ Community Impact Grants
  • The Creative Health Impact Grants, a collaboration with the Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance
  • The Cambria County Drug Coalition