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State awards funds to arts, cultural venues

Area arts and cultural organizations are getting more than $1.3 million from the state’s capital appropriations budget for 2021-22.

The money is part of $3.7 million that Mahoning and Trumbull counties will receive from $2.1 billion appropriated for the two fiscal years.

Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber Foundation President Guy Coviello said, “The five facilities that will benefit from this are priceless cultural venues that we need to preserve and were among the hardest hit in terms of COVID impact. It’s extremely vital we do what we can to protect these institutions, and the state came through at a time when we’d almost given up hope of having a capital budget.”

Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown will receive $350,000 for its staircase and facade restoration project.

“It’s vital to the completion of the project,” JoAnn Stock, Stambaugh’s chief development officer, said. “We hope to break ground in the spring. Although we’re still in the middle of COVID restrictions with mass gatherings, it’s a perfect opportunity to get the project started and completed.”

The total cost of the renovations, which includes restoration of the grand marble stairs at the Fifth Avenue entrance of the concert hall and ballroom, is $5.1 million. Stambaugh needs to have $3.9 million raised before the work on the stairs can start. Stock said the money from the state brings the amount raised to $2.7 million.

“We just received a couple of big grants (in addition to the state money), and we’ll be sending a complete update on the project in the next couple weeks,” she said.

The city of Warren received $340,000 that will be applied to two projects — $200,000 to address problems caused by drainage issues at Warren Community Amphitheatre and $140,000 to replace the 25-year-old, 20,000-square-foot roof at Packard Music Hall.

Concrete repairs are necessary at the amphitheater because of erosion beneath some sidewalks, ramps and the stage housing. The erosion also has made some of the hand railings loose.

“We very elated the state saw fit to grant our request,” Mayor Doug Franklin said. “Those are two huge arts and entertainment venues for the city of Warren. Our plan is to make Warren a destination, and the state concurred with our vision.”

The state money should cover most of the cost for the two projects, but the city won’t know for sure until the contracts are put out for bid, Franklin said. City funds will be used, if needed, for the balance of the cost.

Other projects funded by the state include:

• $275,000 for the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown for its Preservation of an American Cultural Treasure Project. The money will be used to upgrade the environmental control system, which will help protect and preserve the museum’s art collection and lower its maintenance and repair costs.

• $350,000 for OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology in downtown Youngstown, which currently is closed for a renovation project that will improve access for visitors, create additional community and educational spaces, and improve the acoustic quality of the exhibit halls, work areas and classrooms.

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