PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - For decades a non-profit has sculpted the arts around the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Formed in 1966 as the United Alliance for the Arts, community members probably know this non-profit better as Artsbridge.
“Our records show that about 250 citizens got together and said we need an organization specifically to support the arts in this community, and that’s how we started. Then in 1986, we took on the name Artsbridge,” said Executive Director Amanda Stevens.
Headquartered in the bottom floor of a small building on Market Street in downtown Parkersburg, Artsbridge continues to expand and explore the arts in the MOV. With a primary focus of art education, Stevens says Artsbridge’s programs serve five counties.
“Art Cart is the biggest one. It’s the fastest growing one,” said Stevens. “We started out in one school as a pilot project, and now we are in all… we’re in 18 of the 19 Wood County Elementary Schools.”
Stevens says Artsbridge tries to be as inclusive and accessible as possible.
“The main point Artsbridge tries to get across is that the arts are for everyone. They should be accessible to everyone and there shouldn’t be any barriers. That’s why we’re going out into the communities and making things free and accessible. Not everyone has transportation,” said Stevens.
Artsbridge even puts on a day of activities for students with special needs, every March.
“Every year we have between 300 and 500 special needs students come together for a day at WVUP where they have hands-on arts activities all day long,” said Stevens.
Everything Artsbridge does is put on by a small staff, with Stevens being the only full time employee.
“It’s bigger than it’s ever been. We have more programs than we’ve ever had. We have a great board, we’ve got 18 members of our board, they make it happen. We have volunteers outside of the board and we have four staff members. So the four of us remain very busy people,” said Stevens.
And to Stevens, the arts are vital.
“The arts are just so important. They make our lives colorful and exciting and they help us to dream. I just, I think it’s the most important subject,” said Stevens.