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Charity Concert at State Theatre to Benefit Local Non-Profits, Feature Songs of Van Morrison

by on February 04, 2015 6:15 AM

Saturday night should be – as famed singer-songwriter Van Morrison once wrote – “a fine night for a moondance.”

Saturday will be the fourth installment in the State Theatre’s annual “Bright Side of the Road” charity concert series, and will feature 12 local bands performing covers from Irish folk legend Van Morrison’s highly decorated and extremely varied career.

Proceeds from the event will support the non-profit State Theatre and fellow non-profit Strawberry Fields, which supports individuals with developmental disabilities across the Centre region.

“This is a real feel-good event for everyone in the community, and it’s always a killer show,” says State Theatre Marketing Director Jay Bartlett. “The musicians in this town really come with their A-game.”

If you’re a big fan of Van the Man or are interested in supporting two local non-profits, you’d better act fast. Bartlett says that the concert is very popular – raising nearly $20,000 last year – and there are only a handful of tickets left for this year’s show.

Rich Gadsby, director of mental health services with Strawberry Fields, says this is the first time his organization has been the beneficiary of the theatre’s “Bright Side of the Road” concert – though Strawberry Fields has previously partnered with the theatre for other events.

“We’ve done our own fundraising in the past, but that means that we’re taking staff time away from the services we provide to run those fundraisers,” Gadsby says. “To be able to partner with the State Theatre like this is great for us.”

Gadsby says a portion of the proceeds from the concert will support the numerous therapeutic and educational services that Strawberry Fields provides to more than 400 families across Centre County.

Strawberry Fields works with individuals with development disabilities who range in age from infancy to late adulthood, as well as their families. The non-profit offers therapy for children working through developmental delays, operates group homes for individuals with various disabilities and helps youth with mental illnesses develop independent living skills, among numerous other programs.

Saturday’s concert is especially important because it will help “kick start” a brand new Strawberry Fields program called “Scraps and Skeins” that will help its clients develop career and interpersonal communication skills. The organization will gather donated scraps of yarn and other fabrics, which their clients will repackage and resell, giving them hands-on experience working with others.

“This concert is very important, not just in a monetary sense, but for community education as well,” Gadsby says. “… but we are dealing with shrinking budgets, or finances that have been stagnant for a number of years, while trying to maintain the upkeep of our programs.”

Part of the money raised will stay with the State Theatre, which Bartlett says has been steadily coming out of “a period of financial distress.” After several years of trial and error, the theatre now has a much better handle on what kinds of programming to offer and when to offer them in order to say out of the red.

“Our proceeds from this show will help subsidize our rental rates for all the local and community theatre groups who use our theatre,” Bartlett says. “It makes it literally half as expensive to come in here and put on a run of shows.”

The concert will feature performances from Pure Cane Sugar, Tommy Wareham, Ted and the Hi-Fi’s, The Screaming Ducks, The Unbanned, Chris Vipond and the Stanley Street Band, Grain, the Rick Hirsch Four, Erin Condo and the Hoofties, Hannah Bingman, Natasha and the Spy Boys and Hannah Bingman.

Tickets can be purchased online, or by calling the State Theatre at (814) 272-0606.


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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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