PUTNEY -- Next Stage Arts Project has expanded its board and added three new members.
Stephen Phillips, Herve Pelletier and Amelia Struthers recently joined the Next Stage board and will help run the non-profit arts organization.
Next Stage Executive Director Maria Basescu said the board decided to add three new members as the organization further establishes itself in the southern Vermont arts scene and seeks to expand educational programs.
"Now that we have so many programs, and concerts and events we are producing the board felt comfortable expanding the board in this way," Basescu said. "We had a small board and we wanted to be deliberate about how we expand. It reflects our increased capacity and commitment to doing even more programming in the community."
Next Stage formed in 2011 and joined with the Putney Historical Society to preserve and develop the former United Church of Putney at 15 Kimball Hill.
The Putney Historical Society owns the building.
Next Stage promotes concerts, films, plays and theater performances in the historic Putney building.
Pelletier is the principal at Putney Central School and Struthers runs the Putney Family Services after school program.
Basescu said the two educators were asked to join the board as Next Stage works to increase the programming it offers to area schools.
Over the past year Next Stage has asked artists who are performing in the evening to give workshops to school children and Basescu said Pelletier and Struthers can strengthen that relationship with schools.
"Having Herve and Amelia on the board reflects our increasing commitment to working with more school-age kids and making our programs accessible to all ages," Basescu said. "We want to reach out more and work more with the whole community."
Phillips is an attorney who lives in Brattleboro.
Basescu says he brings legal expertise along with experience developing public-private partnerships for organizations.
Next Stage announced the addition of the three new board members as it continues on with its first annual appeal.
The organization has received a number of grants since forming, and Basescu said this was the first time it reached out for an annual appeal, which is a matching $23,000 grant from the Fresh Sound Foundation.
Basescu said the donations to date, as well as the encouraging letters that have been included with the gifts, have encouraged the board to move ahead aggressively with its plans.
"We are a couple of years into this and it is clear that people believe in what we are doing," she said. "We have not asked the community for support in this way and the support we are receiving is so powerful and sweet and appreciative. It is really critical to help us continue."
For more information go to Nextstagearts.org.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.