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Mishler Theatre remains credit to our region

Cultural resources are a major component of a vibrant community, and Altoona is vibrant for many reasons.

In terms of cultural amenities, Altoona is blessed by having the Mishler Theatre as a dynamic centerpiece amid the business, industrial and professional assets that, together, make the Mountain City such a special place.

Each year, tens of thousands of people — young and not-so-young — enjoy a wide variety of top-notch entertainment at the Mishler through the great vision, leadership and guidance of the Blair County Arts Foundation, which has owned this cultural cornerstone since 1965.

It has taken much dedication and work over the decades to enable the theater to retain its vitality and popularity — its magnificence and spirit of performing excellence — and it’s a credit to Altoona that it continues to boast leaders and lovers of the arts who remain committed to maintaining the Mishler as an amenity of a scope and quality coveted by other places.

But cultural resources, including the Mishler, require more of an outpouring than what is possible by those who plan its programs and other activities and keep the theater alive month after month.

Cultural resources require help from their communities in general — from the “regular” people who live around them, as well as from community leaders, businesses, industries and other services that together form the backbone of what the community is about.

Now there is an opportunity for everyone to be a part of the mission that keeps the Mishler on the right trajectory toward meeting Altoona and Blair County’s cultural appetite.

That mission is in the form of the theater’s annual operating campaign, for which a contribution envelope is enclosed in today’s Mirror.

Contributions of any amount will be accepted and greatly appreciated. However, for those wishing that their contributions be part of a level of giving, eight tiers have been established: Associate, $25; Friend, $50; Contributor, $100; Patron, $150; Sponsor, $250; Benefactor, $500; Production Partner, $1,000; and Program Sponsor, $2,500.

Each Christmas season, the Mirror conducts a Season of Sharing fundraising campaign to benefit some agency or worthy cause. This Mishler annual operating campaign is a give-back opportunity for Altoona and its environs, in recognition of how much the theater means to the cultural life of this region and its people.

Keeping such a facility pulsating with activity and life is a constant challenge, and the Arts Foundation has demonstrated consistently that it is capable of meeting whatever challenges come its way.

The Arts Foundation partnered with the Altoona-Blair County Development Corporation in applying for a $150,000 Keystone Communities Grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

That grant paid for half of the $300,000 purchase and installation of 879 new seats last year — part of a bigger project of interior improvements that also included some new flooring plus new carpeting.

But there have been other major projects over the years, such as installation of new heating and air-conditioning systems and a 1990s effort to stabilize and bring the building up to code.

People who believe that the Mishler is Altoona’s most valuable artistic asset aren’t exaggerating, but keeping it as that requires ongoing financial commitment.

Use the envelope accompanying today’s Mirror to be part of that worthwhile endeavor, and do seek to enjoy some of the many opportunities that the Mishler provides over the course of each year.

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