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AEP Foundation gives $300,000 for ArtsLab

Statement as issued Monday by Arts United:

Fort Wayne, November 26, 2012: The American Electric Power Foundation has granted Arts United a significant gift of $300,000 for the construction of the next phase of development on the growing downtown arts campus, ArtsLab. More commonly known as a black box theater, ArtsLab is specially designed for small theatrical productions, music, dance, temporary art exhibits, educational programming, and more.

“The AEP Foundation is making a strategic investment in northeast Indiana by this gift to Arts United,” said Sarah Bodner, director of communications and community relations for Indiana Michigan Power. “The expansion of the downtown arts campus adds to the vibrancy of our community, helps attract and retain talent, and encourages business investment in our region.”

With its flexible seating and technology grid, ArtsLab will provide the versatile space that artists need to share new and innovative creative activity, and no other black box theater currently exists in downtown Fort Wayne. Arts United, in partnership with the artistic leaders of the Fort Wayne Ballet, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Fort Wayne Youtheatre, Fort Wayne Dance Collective, and Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, met with consultants Steve Friedlander and Tom Tomlinson to discuss technical and design elements of the space.

“We are thrilled by this very generous gift to our community from the AEP Foundation” said Jim Sparrow, executive director of Arts United. “The arts campus – made possible through donations to the A Home for the Arts capital campaign – is a tangible, visible expression of the value our arts and cultural assets play in developing our vibrant downtown neighborhood.”

In the past two years, Arts United has raised more than $4 million for the development of the arts campus. ArtsLab will be an expansion of the Auer Center for Arts & Culture, a building acquired by Arts United in 2010 during the first phase of the A Home for the Arts capital campaign. Construction of ArtsLab will begin next March and should be completed by the end of 2013.

The American Electric Power Foundation is funded by American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) and its utility operating units. The Foundation provides a permanent, ongoing resource for charitable initiatives involving higher dollar values and multi-year commitments in the communities served by AEP and initiatives outside of AEP’s 11-state service area.

The Foundation’s areas of focus include special emphasis on improving lives through education from early childhood through higher education, protecting the environment, providing basic human services in the areas of hunger, housing, health and safety, and enriching life through art, music and cultural heritage.

The Foundation is based in Columbus, Ohio.

Established in 1955, Arts United is the third oldest nonprofit united arts fund in the United States and the second largest arts council in the State of Indiana. Arts United’s mission is to develop, coordinate and support arts and cultural efforts in northeast Indiana. To learn more about arts United, visit www.artsunited.org.

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