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BEDFORD COUNTY—Hearing the performances will no longer be an issue for guests who attend plays at the Garner Theater at Old Bedford Village. That’s thanks to a $1,200 grant through the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies that allowed for the purchase of assistive listening devices.
“As senior citizens, we realized there was a need for hearing devices and the one we had didn’t operate,” said Kay Dull, theater board member and volunteer. “I’m actually one of those people who need assistance to hear. I wear hearing aids and we felt it was important to have devices to aid those with hearing disabilities.”
The grant came from the Earl and Jeanne Berkey Fund, which was established specifically to support arts and cultural projects in Bedford and Somerset counties. The Bedford County Players have received three grants through the Berkey Fund since 2014.
“We are an all-volunteer organization,” said Dull. “Our budget is enough to maintain the facility, but to do anything extra we need to ask for a little help. When we became aware of the grants through the Foundation, we were given an opportunity to do things that we otherwise would not have been able to do,” said Dull.
Dull and her husband Jim have been volunteering with Bedford County Players since 1989.
“The community support has been great but it’s important it continues,” said Jim Dull. “Everything about what we do, we enjoy and we know our supporters like it because they keep coming back.”
The theater puts on five shows a year and, according to Jim, they are growing performance after performance.
“We have a cast of 40-42 people. That is including on stage, behind stage, and setting up. Since we’ve been back our shows are growing, almost a sell-out every show. We’ve been very pleased.”
Since 2014 the Bedford County Players have been applying for grants to help with the costs of maintaining the theater.
“The three grants we have received through the Foundation have been for the hearing devices, new LED lighting, and the heating system,” said Kay Dull. “The entire process was seamless.”
“We’ve had positive feedback from our grantees since moving to an entirely online application process for our grantmaking and grant reporting,” said Angie Berzonski, Program & Communications Officer. “Our next application deadline is Friday, August 26, 2016. Any organization that serves Bedford, Cambria, Somerset, and/or Indiana counties and is designated by the IRS as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, a governmental entity, or a religious organization is eligible to apply. The grant awards typically range from $500-$5,000, however they have become very competitive. We always have many more grant requests than we do grant funds available, so our Distribution Committee seeks to award those that will make the most impact in our community.”
“The grants have allowed us to improve our facility to make things more comfortable for our performers and patrons,” said Jim. “We are very grateful to the Foundation.”
The current production is “Guys and Dolls” which is set to open to the public June 17, 2016.
“We have a great cast and a great performance that the public will enjoy and can hear perfectly if they need the assistance,” said Kay. “Just ask us for a headset if you need it.”
For more information on the theater and show times click on hear.
“We hope the public will come to see us. We have some really talented performers,” said Jim. “The patrons and their feedback is what keeps us going.”

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