FirstEnergy $5K donation may pay for installation of facade panels for Colonial Arts Center theater

Tim Pingley, regional external affairs consultant for FirstEnergy, presents a $5,000 donation to the Colonial Arts Center (formerly known as the Colonial Theatre renovation project) to city officials and members of the CAC Board. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

BUCKHANNON – A representative with FirstEnergy presented a $5,000 donation to the Colonial Arts Center restoration project Friday.

Tim Pingley, regional external affairs consultant for FirstEnergy, said this was the third check First Energy has given to the project.

“We have done this for the past couple of years, so we’re happy to be able to continue the tradition and support the arts here in downtown Buckhannon,” Pingley said. “I think it’s great for the town and Upshur County as a whole. It’s amazing what’s going on here and the work that’s been done by Bryson (Van Nostrand, city architect and president of ART26201), and the town council, I think it has really helped to develop downtown Buckhannon.”

FirstEnergy has donated a total $15,000 over the last three years.

“It’s been amazing. I’ve been here on and off over the past three years, and I’ve seen the growth of this building from the start and all the progress that has been made. It’s just fantastic,” Pingley said. “We’re hoping this will help with the educational programs that are going to benefit the students of the community who come here and work on a day-to-day basis.”

Bryson Van Nostrand, president of ART26201, said this particular donation will most likely go toward installing façade panels to the theater.

“The Colonial Art Center Board of Directors will have to talk about how they want to use the money, but I think will go to the facade installation,” Van Nostrand said. “We’ve gotten most of the material for the facade panels and we’ve been waiting. We raised a little bit of money privately about a month ago.”

He said back in the 1930s, the building had horizontal white panels with red stripes, so they hope to match that historic look.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time trying to work out the operations of the building, how it will be run, how many people will be here, who’s being paid, who’s a volunteer and what kind of programming is being developed,” Van Nostrand said. “Our programming policy lays out who gets priority to use the space, and the highest use of the whole property is for education of the arts for youth.”

He noted Buckhannon City Council and Upshur County Board of Education recently posted separate new job descriptions for positions within the building.

“The council voted last night (Thursday, Nov. 18) to proceed with posting the position for the managing director of the facility and the Board of Education has posted their position for a full-time art teacher in the building, designing programs and teaching programs,” Van Nostrand said. “Between those two full-time people, plus the artists in their teaching studios downstairs, we expect this to be a hub of creative thought and activity.”

The Colonial Arts Center restoration project is partnership between the City of Buckhannon, ART26201 and Buckhannon Community Theatre.

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