County Commission allocates funds for Mountain Arts District

Mountain Arts District President Josie Cuda makes a presentation to the Randolph County Commission Thursday afternoon.

ELKINS — The Randolph County Commission unanimously approved a funding request for the Mountain Arts District Thursday during their bi-monthly meeting.

Mountain Arts District President Josie Cuda and board member Pat Schoonover made the presentation, giving a background on what the organization does.

“The focus of the Mountain Arts District is to support artists and the arts economy by creating an infrastructure that connects tourists and residents to artists and arts events,” Cuda said. “So we are very aware that the art economy here has a lot of potential. We have a lot of assets but we haven’t really focused on them as part of our economic growth in the area.

“To create that infrastructure we also are interested in helping to create an environment where our community looks like an art community, that we value art. So, we are interested in public art,” she continued.

The hopes for the funding is to bolster the Mountain Arts District website — — as well as driving individuals to use it.

“The website is like an online showcase of artists and venues. It also is an events calendar…,” she said.

“Since last September we’ve been looking for subscribers of artists and venues, and also sponsors. Websites are expensive and a lot of artists don’t have access to websites because sometimes it’s just too expensive and it’s a lot to maintain.”

In Randolph County, subscribers include venues like Augusta, The Arts Center, the Old Brick Playhouse and Artists at Work. Currently, sponsors are Citizen’s Bank of West Virginia, Mountain Valley Bank, Davis Trust Company, Allegheny Insurance, the Randolph County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and Durbin & Greenbrier Railroad.

“We are growing every day and, consequently, because we are an all-volunteer board, we need some more help,” she said. “We really hope to make an economic impact through the arts in this area and, really, in the whole district.”

Schoonover said though she is not an artist herself, she feels the arts are very important.

“We would like to see that we are pulling together a region that is known as an arts region,” she said.

The group requested $3,000; however, commissioners voted unanimously to approve a contribution of $1,000 to be taken from the hotel/motel tax budget line. Commission President Mike Taylor told officials with the group to come back before them in three to six months and, depending on how they are doing, another contribution may be possible.

In other business:

• Commissioners unanimously approved a funding request for $1,000 from the WVU Fire Service extension to assist in sending three children to Junior Fire Camp. The camp will be in June at Jackson’s Mill.

• Commissioners unanimously approved the release of Randolph County Aerial Imagery from the Assessor’s Office. The images were requested by the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the West Virginia GIS Technical Center at West Virginia University and the West Virginia Flood Insurance Program.

The pictures will be used on websites to allow individuals, at no cost, to view the images that will help determine if their homes are located in flood plains.