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State 150th Commission approves nearly $30K in grants

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Members of the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission Wednesday approved five grants totaling $29,950 -- including a $15,000 grant to the Charleston Light Opera Guild to stage four performances of the musical "The Civil War" at the Culture Center theater.

Commissioners also voted to recognize the performances as one of the commission's signature events for the state's 150th birthday celebration.

According to the grant application, "The Civil War" will be a fully staged theatrical production incorporating the words and writings of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Walt Whitman, as well as soldiers and family members of the era.

"This is the show that was done on Broadway a couple of years ago," Chelsea Ruby, commission spokeswoman, said of the production.

The total cost of the production, with nightly performances set for June 20-23, is $42,500. In addition to the state grant, the production will be funded through a $10,000 grant from Mrs. Alex Schoenbaum, and $20,000 in ticket sales, at a cost of $20 per ticket.

"The Civil War" will also be a featured event for FestivALL 2013, and will be promoted in FestivALL advertising, programs and on its website, according to the grant application.

Other grants approved Wednesday include:

* $5,000 for the Blue and Gold Reunion Civil War re-enactment May 28 to June 1 in Philippi.

Total cost of the event is $19,160, with $6,000 for fireworks, $2,000 for souvenir buttons, totes, and patches, $1,800 to cater dinner for the re-enactors, and $1,200 for ribbons and medallions for the re-enactors.

* $5,000 for the Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation in Randolph County to stage the Raids on Beverly re-enactment May 3-5, a statehood commemoration on June 15, and a West Virginia 1863 "History Alive" event on July 13.

Total cost is $10,000, including $2,100 in stipends for actor/interpreters who will portray Francis Pierpont, governor of the "restored government" of Virginia during the war, and U.S. Sen. John <co >Carlile.

* $3,450 to the Larry Joe Harless Community Center in Gilbert for the 2013 "Skirmish on the River" re-enactment April 26-28.

Total cost for the event is $11,650, including $2,400 for $10-per-hour pay for 40 re-enactors, and $1,120 for the re-enactors' dinner.

* $1,500 to the Alliance for the Arts in Bluefield for "Celebrate West Virginia!" events, April 13 through May 5.

Total costs are $2,900 and include $1,500 for a three-week exhibit of 3-D Civil War photographs at the Bluefield Area Arts Center. That includes $1,350 for rental costs for the exhibit and $150 for 3-D glasses.

Like the state, the Sesquicentennial Commission has had a stormy history, and its share of divisiveness. In the spring of 2011, about half the commissioners resigned in a dispute over whether the commission should be geared to promoting tourism-friendly re-enactments, fairs, and festivals or should focus on educating the public about historical events surrounding the Civil War that ultimately led to the creation of West Virginia in 1863.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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