GREENVILLE – Darke County Endowment for the Arts (DCEA) has been awarded $500,000 from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission for the renovation of historic Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall. These funds which will be released July 1 were requested by the two Ohio Senators representing Darke County, Senate President Keith Faber and Senator William Beagle, and approved in the recently-passed state budget. Darryl Mehaffie, acting as an ambassador for the legislators, outlined the process behind the award at a meeting of the Endowment’s Trustees on April 18.
Acting upon the belief that arts programs in counties with smaller populations are important but often overlooked by legislators, early in the year Senator Faber made initial inquiries as to Darke County projects in need of funding. Upon learning of the ongoing struggle to maintain and improve Darke County’s premier performance center, Faber enlisted the cooperation of Senator Beagle to secure state funding to make possible needed repairs and improvements.
Darke County Endowment for the Arts (DCEA) was established to financially support the arts within the county, with the continuing preservation of Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall as a primary purpose of the non-profit organization. Additionally, the Endowment annually grants funds to individuals and organizations who apply for assistance with arts projects. Current Endowment Board members are Suzanne Brown, Marilyn Delk, David Feltman, Tom Graber, Barbara Greiner, Becky Hartnagle, and Andrea Jordan; Julie Strait is Endowment treasurer.
DCEA trustees have been seriously discussing plans to undertake a major renovation of St. Clair Memorial Hall for some time, and had begun to create a concrete plan of action to prioritize needs, establish estimated costs, and raise funds. Last October, the Endowment Board contracted with local resident Matt Jordan to bring form and structure to the then still-nebulous project. At the Board’s request, Jordan performed an initial evaluation and made recommendations for moving forward. A major remaining question was how to raise sufficient funds in a timely fashion to accomplish established goals.
“And then, Darryl Mehaffie contacted Darke County Center for the Arts’ officials about Senator Faber’s concerns, inquiring about existing needs that might be appropriately addressed with funds provided from Ohio’s state budget. Darke County Center for the Arts (DCCA) fulfills its mission to culturally enrich our community by presenting diverse outstanding performing artists. Many of those presentations take place at St. Clair Memorial Hall; Senator Faber was directed to the Endowment’s Memorial Hall project as an area of real need,” said Marilyn Delk, president of the Darke County Endowment for the Arts board. “For years, Darryl has been instrumental in keeping our community’s arts organization in touch with our governmental representatives; Darryl’s efforts and influence greatly heightened state level awareness of the vibrant and vital arts component in our community,” Mrs. Delk explained.
Additionally, Mrs. Delk believes that without the trustee’s earlier decision to contract Mr. Jordan’s services, the opportunity to follow through on Senator Faber’s request would have been lost, asserting that Jordan is uniquely qualified to manage the Hall’s renovation. With a degree in Theater and an MFA in Theater Technology and Design, Matt had supervised the technical aspects of multiple productions at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights before becoming a lecturer and technical director at Vanderbilt University. While working as an Assistant Professor of Technical Theater at Western Washington University, he oversaw the entire process of installing new lighting in two of the five theaters of which he was in charge, from writing grants to actual system installation. “Matt used his vast experience and knowledge to not only pull together vital information to establish priorities and a possible budget for us, but had it so well-organized that he was able to almost immediately turn around a well-prepared response for Senator Faber,” she stated.
Speaking for the DCEA board, Mrs. Delk extended deep gratitude to Senator Faber and Senator Beagle. “Our Senators’ consideration of this project and their efforts to make this almost unbelievable possibility a reality is appreciated more than words can adequately express,” Mrs. Delk said. “We are still giddy with joy and disbelief, but are working hard to culminate a plan of action so that Henry and Ella St. Clair’s legacy can continue to serve our community well for future generations,” she concluded.