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Bluefield, W.Va. – In just the past four years, the historic Bluefield Municipal Building has become the epicenter for growing arts, culture and musical performances in downtown Bluefield, and Mercer Nursing & Rehabilitation Center (N&RC) presented a donation to help continue that growth.

Mercer N&RC presented Bluefield Area Arts Center Executive Director Betty Brainerd with a $1,000 donation made possible through the AMFM Charitable Foundation, Inc. The foundation provides money to AMFM’s 18 skilled nursing centers to help enrich organizations and charities directly in their communities.

The donation will help with costs associated with a local performance and pay for more than 460 children from all over Mercer County and surrounding areas attend a recent performance of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The first year the BAAC brought area children to the center for a theatre performance there as close to 300 children. Last year, approximately 964 children attended activities at the center. 

“When we learned what all the Bluefield Area Arts Center did for the community we knew we wanted to be involved and help them meet their vision and goals,” said Shellie Bailey, executive director for Mercer N&RC. “We are really excited that some our residents and staff will get to attend an upcoming performance.”   

Brainerd came to the Bluefield Alliance for the Arts, which runs the BAAC, four years ago as the Executive Director. With a long background in arts, art galleries and retail, she set about crafting a vision for the arts center as something for the entire community. In the past two years, the center has grown into an economic driver for downtown Bluefield.

She emphasizes that all the programs involving area children are completely free for the kids and school system. The invite is county-wide but also included schools across the border in neighboring Virginia. Each child gets a snack at the performances and is introduced to the arts.  

“We had some schools that said they couldn’t afford the gas money to bus the kids here, so we started raising money for that as well,” Brainerd said.   

In addition to theatre performances, the BAAC hosts proms, an upcoming Fur Ball Fundraiser and Murder Mystery Theatre. Recently, internationally known guitarist Molly Tuttle performed a sold-out concert at the BAAC.

An art gallery currently features international recognized Glass Blower Alex Brand, and the second floor has offices for local businesses.

“Without the arts, what is there,” asks Brainerd. “Art keeps us grounded and brings joy to life.”

For more information on BAAC visit their website at or call (304) 327-9330.

About AMFM:
AMFM operates 18 skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers throughout West Virginia. The care centers operate in Braxton, Boone, Clay, Cabell, Summers, Fayette, Hardy, Greenbrier, Webster, Wayne, McDowell, Lincoln, Wyoming, Harrison (Clarksburg & Bridgeport), Marshall, Taylor and Mercer counties. 

AMFM’s mission is “to exemplify excellence in quality care to our customers by providing an environment that enhances personal growth, individuality, dignity and respect.”