Members of the arts community in Butler County say it will be strengthened by an agreement between two nonprofit groups, the Butler-based Associated Artists of Butler County and the Cranberry Township Community Chest.
This agreement, the outgrowth of an art show that debuted during Cranberry's annual Community Days festival this month, is expected to boost and broaden the membership base of AABC by creating a satellite gallery at the Cranberry Municipal Center on Rochester Road.
Meanwhile, Cranberry will further its goal of strengthening the arts by fostering this connection with Butler, said Bruce Mazzoni, president of CTCC and a Cranberry supervisor.
"It's a fantastic opportunity. A win for everyone," Mr. Mazzoni said.
Paul Scanlon, president of AABC, said members were thrilled with the exposure they received during an ongoing art show that opened July 10 as part of the Cranberry Community Days festival.
Some 85 pieces by AABC members are being shown through Aug. 10. Within the first week of the showing, seven pieces were sold. A typical show at the AABC's gallery, 344 S. Main St. in Butler, might result in the sale of one or two pieces, he said.
AABC hosts 10 shows annually at the Butler gallery, primarily by member artists.
To be a member, annual dues are $50 for an individual, $10 for a student and $25 for a senior citizen. AABC also sponsors art classes.
The goal of the new partnership is to bring four exhibits annually to the Cranberry site.
Mr. Scanlon said that, despite the association's name, the group's membership has been primarily focused on the county's center, as has its shows and classes.
"This will help us become a true county organization," he said, noting that he expects to attract more members from the Cranberry area -- including some artists from Allegheny County, as well.
There currently are about 200 members.
More membership from a broader area will boost both the group's budget and its volunteer base, said Mr. Scanlon, who lives in Butler.
He said the Cranberry site promises a convenient location for artists from the southern end of the county to drop off and show their work as well as the potential for more people to view and purchase the pieces.
Mr. Mazzoni said the alliance furthers a goal that was set in the township's long-range comprehensive plan.
"We've wanted to promote the arts -- that's a goal. But, it's easy to make that statement and much harder to execute. This is a solid step forward," he said.
"Arts promote the aesthetics of a community and build social connections -- both of which are proven drivers of a successful community," he added.
The partnership with AABC also will be another step toward "eliminating the misconception that Cranberry is really [pointed to] Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and not [a part of] Butler," Mr. Mazzoni said.
The ongoing exhibit that fills the hallways of the Cranberry Municipal Center began July 11 with a cocktail art reception at Cranberry Highlands golf course. Some 175 art enthusiasts attended the reception, called Martinis with Monet. Proceeds of a live auction went to AABC.
As another component of Community Days, a mural will remain on display at the Cranberry Park amphitheater through summer's end.
It was produced in the week leading up to the festival by more than 100 children who were enrolled in Camp Cranberry.
The 16-by-20-foot mural was constructed from 320 individual panels, under the direction of AABC board member Terry Hagen with assistance from six other AABC artists. The mural is suspended from ceiling tresses above the Rotary Amphitheatre stage.
Karen Kane: firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-772-9180. First Published July 26, 2012 9:15 AM