In early 2016, the Abandoned Property Coalition, a network of community leaders, and local, regional, and national organizations developing community-based solutions to vacant, abandoned, and dilapidated properties across West Virginia, held a strategy session to determine what the Coalition should focus its energy on over the course of the next year. Four people, including representatives from the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, signed on to research the possibility of pushing forward policy around increasing the rate of West Virginia’s historic rehabilitation tax credit from 10% to 25%.
One major issue the group quickly came to realize was that although West Virginia has 92 commercial and mixed-use historic districts ripe for revitalization –developers choose to invest in neighboring states instead of our downtowns due to West Virginia’s uncompetitive 10% historic rehabilitation tax credit. Neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, all have 25% historic rehabilitation tax credits.
By Joe Obidzinski, Preserve WV AmeriCorps member, and Kelli Shapiro, PhD, Program Associate
If you are looking for some fun and exciting things to do this summer, check out the West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail! Summer is a great time to enjoy a nostalgic movie-going experience at one of the state’s drive-in theatres – such as our Trail members, the Warner’s Drive-In in Franklin and the Sunset Drive-In in Shinnston. Many of our member sites, like the Ritz Theatre in Hinton, are showing some of the season’s most popular films. The Capitol Theatre in Wheeling, which has primarily been a performance-oriented venue in recent years, is even featuring a weekly, summer film series that offers affordable entertainment for audiences of all ages. With 29 member sites across the Mountain State, there are a plethora of opportunities to enjoy.
A number of our Trail members across the state offer great children’s/youth theatre and performing arts programs over the summer, a wonderful way to get young people interested in theatre and the arts. Perhaps you are looking for some live music performances, or even a play or musical. The West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail features many fantastic venues for these types of entertainment as well! There are even summer concert and performance series occurring at Trail sites, including Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg and the Randolph County Community Arts Center in Elkins.
‘Matewan’ Director John Sayles to Attend Launch of Blair Centennial Project
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced today that the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum is the recipient of a $30,000 challenge grant for their long-term project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain in 2021.
Though still four years in the future, planning for the Blair Centennial Project has already begun. A celebration of the 30th anniversary of the release of John Sayles’s acclaimed film about the West Virginia Mine Wars, Matewan, will take place this October. Sayles and his producer partner, Maggie Renzi, will both attend screenings of the film in Charleston. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Centennial project. The museum will be releasing more details about the screenings in coming weeks.
The five-day Battle of Blair Mountain unfolded on the border of Boone and Logan counties and pitted unionist coal miners against local law enforcement and citizen militias. The Blair Centennial Project will consist of five days of fun, interpretive activities spread out across the coalfield counties where the conflict took place. The NEH grant makes it possible for the Museum to hire a director to coordinate the activities. The grant is also intended to increase the museum’s fundraising capacity, while creating connections among humanities organizations across southern West Virginia.
In Governor Justice’s FY 2018 Recommended Budget, all Division of Culture & History funding that comes from the state Lottery Education Fund (fund 3534 in the budget) was to be defunded. However, during the spring special legislative session, the West Virginia Legislature negotiated to pass the FY 2018 budget and continue funding programs made possible through the state Lottery Education Fund. Unfortunately, several historic preservation programs were funded at lower levels than in FY 2017, but there is good news for Fairs and Festivals, which received an increase in funding. Here are how things panned out (this is not a comprehensive list of line items):
Thank your legislators for supporting these important programs! Encourage increased funding levels by inviting them to events or to visit projects that benefit from these grant funds. Now is the time to ask them to consider increasing these funds in FY 2019.
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