Art Workshops for Elders

posted on: Thursday, April 23, 2015

Elders Share the Arts and Erie Arts & Culture Workshop Details:

Ed Grout will partner with Debby Kraus at the Mercy Hilltop Center.
Theme/Title: Exploring Imagery - A Collaborative Toward a Public Art Piece

Dates: April 20 & 21, April 27 & 28, and May 4
Time: 10 am until 12 pm
Place: Mercy Hilltop Center, 444 E. Grandview Blvd.  Erie, PA  16504
Contact the Mercy Hilltop Center to sign up for their workshop: 814-824-2214

Tom Ferraro will partner with Marie Heberlein at LifeWorks Erie
Theme/Title: The Colors of Caring, what’s in your paint box?

Dates: Starts on Monday, April 20th. Sessions will run each Monday for 5 weeks.
Time: 2 pm until 4 pm
Place: LifeWorks Erie, 406 Peach Street Erie, PA 16507
Contact LifeWorks to sign up for their workshop: (814) 453-50712, or email


PACA Announces New Business Manager

posted on: Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Performing Artists Collective Alliance (PACA) is pleased to announce Margo Wolfe, Ph.D. as their new business manager. Margo comes to PACA with many years of experience in theatre, fundraising, and non-profit administration. In addition to acting and directing for multiple performances throughout Erie and Ohio for the past 20 years, she was an instructor at Erie School District’s SPAVA theatre program, as well as the first director of the theatre and dinner theater program at Collegiate Academy.   

Margo hopes that her background in education will help PACA move forward with their vision of an education component to their programming, in order to give Erie a unique avenue in which to appreciate the depths of art and the impact it has on our world. Her responsibilities at PACA include financial oversight, volunteer coordination, grant writing, and curriculum writing.

Mark Tanenbaum, PACA’s artistic director could not be more delighted to have Margo Wolfe as a stalwart team member. Mark acknowledged that, "As PACA expands its productions and programming, it is essential for us to grow and promote our board and include many more people on staff with diverse qualities skills.”

You can contact Margo with questions regarding programming and PACA’s 2015 sponsorship program at

Advocacy Update

posted on: Friday, March 06, 2015

This week, Governor Tom Wolf released his 2015-2016 Executive Budget. Jenny Hershour, Managing Director of Citizens for the Arts Pennsylvania summarized the changes impacting arts and culture in the following chart:


Proposed Budget

Difference over 2014-15 Budget

Council on the Arts (PCA)


0 (no change)

PCA Grants to the Arts

$10.59 Million

$2 million increase

Marketing to Attract Tourists

$4.264 million

$3 million decrease

Tourism – Accredited Zoos


$550,000 decrease

Historical and Museums Commission – General Government Operations

$19.569 million

$625,000 increase

Cultural and Historical Support

$2 million

0 (no change)

In addition, the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program ($100 million) and the Film Production Tax Credit Program ($60 million) are held at the current fiscal year levels. According to PA Museums, the Governor's Budget also includes funding for capital projects including upcoming work for the new State Archives. Public Television Technology reappears in the budget ($4 million) as well as increases to State Parks and State Forests, both helping to attract visitors to the northwest region.

In the Executive Budget and in his address, the Governor made clear his priorities for increased support to education (Pre-K through post-secondary). This may present more opportunities for youth to gain greater access to arts and cultural education. Declaring that “It’s just this simple, our state is never going to get stronger as long as we are making our schools weaker,” the Governor cited the many sacrifices that schools have made in recent years to adapt to decreasing support and the growing needs of their communities including cuts to art and band programs. 

Reading between the lines, increases to programs like the Keystone Communities Program are also notable as they impact community revitalization efforts across the Commonwealth. Arts and cultural venues, arts-related businesses and public art projects may benefit if involved in these collaborative efforts.

What about the revenue side of the budget? One area to keep an eye on is the list of items and services currently exempt from the sales tax which would be subject to a change under the Governor’s proposed budget. This list includes the performing arts and admissions to museums, Historical Sites and similar institutions, as well as other items and services impacting creative industries. 

The full 2015-2016 Governor’s Executive Budget can be found by visiting the Governor’s Budget Office and you can access the Governor’s Executive Budget Address on the Pennsylvania Cable Network’s (PCN) website (recorded).  

The budget now goes to the PA General Assembly for consideration. Hearings begin the week of March 16th. Citizens for the Arts in PA will host an Arts & Culture Legislative Visits Day in Harrisburg on May 12th. Erie Arts & Culture be at the Capital for this event and will announce ways for you to get involved too! 

Community Fiber Art Residency

posted on: Thursday, February 12, 2015

Deborah Sementelli, Fiber Artist & Teaching Artist with Erie Arts & Culture will be in residence at Edinboro University with Professor Lisa Austin and her Sculpture 1 students. During the residency Ms. Sementelli will offer 3 community workshops for individual who want to gain the basic skills and understand the tools necessary to work with fibers to create sculptural volumes/forms as art.
The Saturday workshops will take place in Loveland Hall, room 10, at Edinboro University. The workshops are open to the public. Persons need only register for one session each Saturday to learn the techniques but are welcome to stay the entire day to work on their project.

As an added bonus any work created during the residency and community sessions will be reviewed and considered for the culminating exhibit at the StArtUp Incubator in Edinboro PA in April, 2015.  
The workshop fee is $40 per session and include materials, Erie Arts & Culture members $35 per session, registration for all 3 sessions is $100, Erie Arts & Culture members $95 for all 3 sessions, Edinboro University students are free with university ID. Contact to register.

Check-in will be in Loveland Hall, 2nd floor, outside of room 10 and will open at 12:30 pm each day of the workshop.

Saturday, March 14th, Hand Sewing Volumes

Session A
1 pm to 3 pm
Registration Maximum: #20 persons

Session B
3 pm to 5 pm
Registration Maximum: #20 persons

Saturday, March 21st, Crocheting Volumes

Session A
1 pm to 3 pm
Registration Maximum: #20 persons

Session B
3 pm to 5 pm
Registration Maximum: #20 persons

Saturday, March 28th, Knitting Volumes

Session A
1 pm to 3 pm
Registration Maximum: #20 persons

Session B
3 pm to 5 pm
Registration Maximum: #20 persons

Exploring Borders between Music and Spoken Word

posted on: Monday, January 26, 2015

Exploring the Border (Words and Music) melds poetry and jazz music on Saturday February 7th at 8pm at the Erie Art Museum. Use the 5th St. entrance between State St. and French St. This event is co-sponsored by JazzErie and the Erie Art Museum. You can also enjoy the current exhibit and a cash wine and beer bar. The suggested donation is $10 or $5 for JazzErie members and students. Join JazzErie and get free admission.

Exploring the Border is sure to be an exciting and unique occasion; co-directed by JazzErie board members Dick Thompson and Chuck Joy. The cast is an eclectic and accomplished group of local artists:  Kim Noyes—poet and harmonica, Ellis Crockett—poet and vocals, Monica Ingras—poet, Chuck Joy—poet and announcer, James Cuneo—keyboards, Mikel Prester—saxophones and Native American flute, Nick “Tito” Ronzitti—drums and percussion and Dick Thompson—upright bass. The poets will be coming from many directions; in pairs, in small groups or solo. The musicians will perform music created for this show. Please be part of this experience and explore the borders between lyrics and poetry, music and words and beyond.  

"Our show, 'Exploring The Border,' considers the border between not only lyrics and poetry lines, but words and music all together," says Chuck Joy. Read more about the artists here.

JazzErie is a member and grant recipient of Erie Arts & Culture.

State Grants Support Arts Activities in Venango County

posted on: Monday, January 12, 2015

Each year Erie Arts & Culture distributes thousands of dollars in grants to artists and organizations throughout the region. These grants are made possible through a state program known as the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA). PPA is a regionalized funding program of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts that supports a wide variety of local and community arts activities. Four organizations in Venango County were awarded funding from Erie Arts & Culture for the 2014-2015 program year. Erie Arts & Culture is proud to serve Northwestern PA as the regional Partner and support the arts in Venango County. PPA grants awarded to Venango County arts groups total $3,817.

Venango County PPA Grantees and their local state legislators. From left to right, Martha Heise (HOLeY Jeans youth choir), Deborah Femovich (Oil Region Ballet), Robin Lutz (Franklin Civic Operetta Association Youth Theatre), Senator Scott Hutchinson, Amanda Sissem (Erie Arts & Culture), Representative R. Lee James, and Pam Martarella (Oil City’s Southside Schools).

The $1,029 awarded to the Franklin Civic Operetta Association Youth Theatre will support two full-scale youth productions and a summer camp. Youth involved with the Theatre experience the full range of acting and production, including costuming, set design, lighting and sound. 

HOLeY Jeans, a 35-40 member youth choir which offers vocal training and performance opportunities for kids wanting to strengthen their vocal capabilities, was awarded $1,203. 

The Oil Region Ballet Company received $509 in support of their 6th annual full-length ballet production. The spring 2015 performance will be based upon a visual and acoustical interpretation of the literary publication of the folk tale "Snow White" put to paper by the Brothers Grimm. 

$1,076 was awarded to Oil City’s Southside Schools for their annual Arts Day. Each year, Art and Music teachers plan a full day of arts activities, such as theater workshops, dance classes, live music, and storytelling. From left to right, Senator Scott Hutchinson, Martha Heise (HOLeY Jeans youth choir), Amanda Sissem (Erie Arts & Culture), Pam Martarella (Oil City’s Southside Schools), and Representative R. Lee James.

For a complete list of the funded projects, click here. For more information, contact Melinda Meyer, Grants Manager at or (814) 452-3427.

Everything Jazz at the Blasco Library

posted on: Monday, December 22, 2014

Article and photographs by Brianna Woods

The Blasco Library is home to more than 3,100 pieces of a jazz collection that is catalogued and available for borrowing. 

The Erie community can’t get enough. Library users borrowed more jazz music from the Blasco Library by August this year, than they had the entire previous year. Library Directory, Mary Rennie, predicts that the jazz circulation at the end of 2014 will roughly double that of 2013. 

“Everything Jazz,” came from a collection donated by Erie native, Bob Protzman, a former journalist of forty years. During his career, Protzman specialized in reporting stories on popular artists. He interviewed Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach and other musical giants of his time. His occupation as a jazz critic resulted in a massive collection of the genre’s music, of which the Blasco Library is now the beneficiary.

Rennie said Protzman's gift can be the catalyst of a host of educational programs about jazz. The library will create these programs with the help of JazzErie, a local nonprofit that promotes jazz throughout the region.  

The Library is now in the process of brainstorming on program ideas for 2015. Some ideas include: 

Student jazz ensembles performing at the library; working with school music teachers to engage students and offer entertainment to library patrons

Live jazz documentary night with an emcee to discuss the history of jazz as well as performing representative music of the time

Jazz story time for younger library patrons that shares the highlights of this genre’s history

A unique petting zoo for kids: this petting zoo involves bringing in musical instruments to touch and try out

Jazz film nights at the library which would include “Lady Sings the Blues,” “Chicago,” “Bird,” and “Cabin in the Sky,” to name a few.

Jammin’ Jazz for teens at the library—all things jazz—learning, listening, discussing and composing their own music

Jazz concert series: local musicians performing their favorites from this era

Protzman’s donation is estimated to be worth $25,000-$35,000 in CDs and other memorabilia. As for the philanthropist himself, he said that if library patrons appreciate it, then that’s enough for him.

"Jazz is sophisticated, emotional. It's often complex. It's about feeling," Protzman said. "People have said to me many times, 'I just don't understand jazz.' I say to them, 'Don't worry about understanding it. See if you can feel it. And if you can feel it, try listening to it some more.'” 

“Everything Jazz” is located at the Blasco Library, 160 E Front St, on the first floor adult area—near the north wall where the Niagara is berthed. The Blasco Library is very excited to have this collection, and to be able to build programs for the public. 

Nutcracker Limited Edition Screenprint Poster

posted on: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Article and photos by Bradley Ford

Lake Erie Ballet commissioned Erie artist Brad Ford to create limited edition prints for the 2014 production of Nutcracker. Through this collaborative project, Lake Erie Ballet is reaching out to the community and supporting local artists. Ford is a graduate of Edinboro University and has worked professionally as a designer and artist in Salt Lake City for over 8 years. Since returning to his hometown of Erie, Ford works hard promoting his art and others. 


The posters are a limited edition of 25, each a hand pulled screen print, unique and a moment in time. Ford enlisted master screen print artist Chris Pace to emphasize the quality of each individual piece. The posters, signed and numbered, will be sold during this weekend's performances of the Nutcracker Ballet at the Warner Theatre.

Raffle tickets will also be sold for $5 for a chance to win the artist proof, or the first print pulled from the screens. This proof handsomely framed and matted by U Frame It Gallery. It is valued at $800 for its rarity, uniqueness and quality framing. The remaining prints of the series will be sold for $25.

In addition to the poster design for the 2014 production of Nutcracker, Brad also created special illustrations of beloved character from the ballet. This artwork was made into a series of buttons, sold to support fundraising for the performers' costumes.

56th Annual Nutcracker

Produced by Lake Erie Ballet
with Hugh Keelan and his Orchestra
Saturday, December 20 at 7 pm
Sunday, December 21 at 2:30 pm
Warner Theatre
811 State Street
Erie, PA 16501
For Tickets
Call the box office at (814) 452-4857
or Click here.

Holiday Performance for People with Different Needs

posted on: Monday, December 08, 2014

Elf at the Erie Playhouse

  • During the month-long run of ELF at the Erie Playhouse two dates have been set aside for people with specific needs.

    Sunday, Dec. 14 at 2:00pm will be a “sensory friendly” performance.

  • The Erie Playhouse, in cooperation with the Barber National Institute, has developed the “sensory friendly” criteria – i.e. the theatre will never be completely dark, the sound/music will be adjusted to a lower level, and there will be a “quiet” space. This was made possible through a grant from Erie Arts & Culture.

  • Sunday, Dec. 28 at 2:00pm the performance will be signed for the deaf and hard of hearing

Special seating areas have been designated for the special population’s performances. For more information on the special performances contact Kate Neubert-Lechner, Youtheatre/Education Director at the Playhouse.
The Mercyhurst Graduate Program in Special Education, through the Mercyhurst Institute of Applied Behavioral Studies (MIABS) will be working with Lake Erie Ballet to produce a meaningful and inclusive "autism-friendly" performance of the classic ballet The Nutcracker.

Call 814-454-2852, ext. 6 or email for more information.

Autism Friendly Nutcracker presented by Lake Erie Ballet

December 19 at the Historic Warner Theatre

Lake Erie Ballet and Mercyhurst University extend an invitation to the region's children, schools, and families to participate in this one-of-a-kind "Arts-Enhanced Community-Based Instruction" activity.

Children with special learning needs, such as those with autism, don't always have a chance to enjoy community art, music, and dance performances. This collaboration will include enhancements to the typical production allowing students with special needs to access the full experience of going to a show, including using adaptive methods to order and pay for souvenirs and concessions. The performance will be accompanied by the incorporation of scripts and narration to aid in comprehension of the symbolism associated with the story told through movement. Other modifications include incorporation of a visual schedule to allow the audience members to keep track of the event's chronology, from arrival, through the show, and program's end. Additionally, house lights will be kept a bit brighter than usual, while performance volume will be kept a bit softer than usual.

Finally, Mercyhurst will support the development of a series of possible lesson objectives and corresponding lesson plans that may be incorporated by regional educators to prime the students for the show and to follow up afterwards. Audience members may benefit from some or all of these available enhancements and supplementary activities, or they can simply just enjoy the show in its modified format.

Tickets are $5
Registration Required. Click here for more info.

Questions? Call (814) 871-4356, or email

Candidates Support Arts and Culture

posted on: Thursday, October 30, 2014

With the election coming up on Tuesday, November 4th, candidates running for Governor, PA and US House and PA Senate have established their platforms for major issues such as education and the economy.

Arts and cultural issues tend to be less emphasized in the overall scope of government policy despite being critical to economic revitalization and central to community vibrancy and personal development. Program elimination and budget cuts are evidence of art and culture's lack of prioritization and support.

Two candidates, Glenn 'GT' Thompson, US Representative for PA's 5th district, and Luke Lofgren, candidate for District 3 PA Representative, responded to Erie Arts & Culture's prompt to share their position on supporting arts and cultural advancement. 

Representative Thompson's response:

In Fiscal Year 2014, I was proud to support the National Endowment of the Arts, which received $146 million, a significant increase over the previous year, offsetting the effects of sequestration.

As representative for the Fifth Congressional district, I host an annual art competition for eleventh and twelfth grade students to present their works to an independent panel, which chooses the winning piece of art that is placed on display in the U.S Capitol. Many if the works that are submitted amaze me just how talented some of our young people are. 

As the father of a music teacher and a member of the House Education & Workforce Committee, I understand the importance of the arts for enhancing a well-rounded education and expanding creative thought. 

Additionally, in our free time, my wife Penny and I volunteer to work phone banks for Public Broadcasting fundraising drives. This is important because the programming provides basic access for many Americans to the arts, theater and music. 

Luke Lofgren's response:

I am regularly thankful for all the art and cultural activities in the Erie area. We are very blessed for a community of our size to have such a great depth and diversity of healthy organizations. As a Representative I will confidently assert that Erie must be treated on equal footing with other allocations from the Commonwealth not based on mere population count, but based on the fact we serve the northwest corner of the state. 

Thank you Representative Thompson and candidate Lofgren for your response and for your actions to support arts and cultural activity in Northwest Pennsylvania. In addition, Erie Arts & Culture would like to thank our local members of the PA Legislative Arts & Culture Caucus for their support. Click here to see a list of current members.

Erie Arts & Culture is committed to building a greater understanding of the importance of arts and cultural activities to the development of our communities. We look to our elected officials to embrace this importance and lead efforts to increase support and access to arts and culture for residents and visitors to the Erie Region. Use your voice to do the same - don't forget to vote on November 4th!