Fuel the Soul By Supporting Local Arts Programs

Oct 31, 2021 · By Aliehsa Walz

Sandrock Zoog

In this photo from 2018, harper Melanie Sandrock pauses her performance to pose for a photo with Roy Zoog in the Zoog Family Heritage Music Room at the historic Samuel T. Brownlee House.

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls,” according to Pablo Picasso.

Art, in its many forms, can move and inspire us at all stages of life. It captures emotion, passion, and energy; its purpose can range from recreational to therapeutic; and it requires not only imagination and skill from the creator but also an appreciation of beauty from its enthusiasts.

In Washington County, we are fortunate to have access to diverse opportunities to participate in and benefit from art. And at the Washington County Community Foundation, we are grateful for our many donors who have provided us with the financial resources to support an array of wonderful local arts programs.

Music is recognized as one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies, and unsurprisingly, it is a particular area of interest for WCCF donors. For instance, the Zoog Family Music Fund, DiSalle Music Fund, and Kenneth & Mary Baker Charitable Fund all provide support for music appreciation because of family connections.

Arts patron Roy Zoog remarked, “My late wife and her sister were both violinists . . . and from the time my son could hold a drumstick in his hand, he has been a drummer.” Jon Zoog played in the Peters Township drum line as an adolescent, and today, he is a professional musician with a successful business, Dallas Drum. His instruments are revered by some of the biggest names in the music industry.

Similarly, the DiSalle family is passionate about the Washington Symphonic Orchestra, a charity that has been committed to providing accessible, quality musical performances for decades. A musician himself, John DiSalle plays both the saxophone and the clarinet, regularly making appearances at local venues.

Kenneth Baker and his son Dan are music lovers and active volunteers with the Washington Jazz Society. Although well versed in jazz, Dan is a talented local guitarist who has taught many students the fundamentals of diverse styles and genres.

A few years ago, a $50,000 capacity-building grant was issued to the Washington Jazz Society to implement its AMP (Afterschool Music Program) for disadvantaged youth as well as an instrument recycling program. AMP has served students from all across the county from districts that include Bentworth, Bethlehem Center, Canon-McMillan, Trinity, and Washington.

In Charleroi, the Mon Valley Academy for the Arts offers music instruction, as well as other arts and cultural programming, for students of all ages. Last year, the Foundation supported the purchase of multi-media equipment for its Twin Coaches Junior Stage Band with the help of an award from the Kenneth & Mary Baker Charitable Fund.

Engaging theatrical performances are also available across the county through charities such as the Washington Community Theatre, Old Schoolhouse Players, and Little Lake Theatre. Each offers the opportunity for members of the community to enjoy a show or even be a part of one.

As a family who has always cherished the time spent together watching and performing in different productions, the Hitchons wanted to honor their collective love of art and music through a fund at the WCCF. As a result, the Lawrence & Marjorie Hitchon Fund was designed to support music and theatre programs in Washington County. It will soon be making its first distribution.

LMC Quilt

In this photo from 2017, LeMoyne Community Center students proudly display a quilt that they helped to create during the Road to Success afterschool program. A $10,000 grant was awarded from the Washington County Community Foundations Arts Fund to help support the project.

Other WCCF funds focus on the significance of arts education. The Miss Judy Hopson Fund was established to celebrate the legacy of this beloved educator with boundless energy through grants to arts programs that serve youth. Miss Judy believed that all forms of art have the power to improve children’s lives, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

And of course, the WCCF is also home to the Arts Fund, which has cumulatively awarded $100,000 to local arts and cultural programs. Its parameters are quite broad. Among the awards from the fund is a $10,000 grant to the LeMoyne Community Center, which enabled students to create beautiful quilts inspired by their lessons about the Underground Railroad. As one of the WCCF’s five pooled funds, the Arts Fund offers anyone an opportunity to help support the rich, vibrant culture of Washington County.

If your soul is in need of some dusting, explore some of the offerings of our local arts community. Or, you could support their good work with your financial gift. Arts organizations have been severely impacted by the pandemic, and only through the generosity of patrons will they be able to ensure that the “show will go on.”