BETHEL — The Mahoosuc Arts Council received a grant from the Maine Arts Commission that will ensure continued efforts to bring the performing and visual arts to the area.

Aranka Matolcsy, director of the council, believes the arts are crucial to the youth and community.

“It’s an extremely valuable investment in the community and in our future lives. The cultural community and arts bring money into this area,” she said.

The council received one of only 19 grants distributed statewide, one of only two that were given to the Western Maine region.

The $9,000 will be used to sustain operations costs of the nonprofit organization so that other funding can be found to bring in performance and visual artists.

Such grants were given to organizations that may have experienced staffing cuts.

“A lot of organizations are folding because they are not finding new strategies,” Matolcsy said.

When writing the grant, she received written support from both the administration of Gould Academy and SAD 44. Both school systems also provide funds in their budgets for the arts program, and Gould also provides a space for the Mahoosuc Arts Council office.

A minimum of one performing troupe at Gould and two at Telstar High School are presented each year. Other performances take place at Crescent Park Elementary School, and an artist in residence shares his or her expertise with elementary-aged youngsters in the Bethel-area schools.

In the past, such programs as an African dance group, a Nova Scotian band, and a performance by the Theater at Monmouth have appeared in the Bethel area thanks to the efforts of the council.

“We get access to world class artists from Maine, the United States and the world, and all have educational components,” said Matolcsy, who grew up in the Norway area to artist parents.

She also directs the Western Maine Arts Group in Norway.

Also receiving funding from the grant, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, is the Alice James Poetry Cooperative in Farmington.

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