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MAC CASTS THE FIRST BRICK FOR M’TOWN’s 350

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Press release from Middletown Arts Council

The Middletown Township Cultural and Arts Council is excited to launch a brick campaign to celebrate Middletown’s 350th Anniversary and raise funds for arts programming. A 50-year time capsule will be buried on the lawn at the Middletown Arts Center, surrounded by an “Anniversary Plaza” designed with personalized  bricks. Donors who purchase a brick will have their special message be part of this beautiful plaza for years to come, and also will help the Arts Council continue its mission of bringing enriching arts programming to the community.

The Arts Center’s Executive Director Maggie O’Brien has been thrilled to receive donations of bricks from several of her volunteers. “These are individuals who have donated their time and now their dollars to express their appreciation for the organization,” said O’Brien. “It’s touching to read their messages and realize just how much the Arts Center means to them. It’s also wonderful to see members of the community express themselves in these bricks.”

Nineteen-year-old CJ Marsini of Middletown stepped up with a brick donation. Marsini, who will be attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music this fall,  performed in the Arts Council’s first talent show at the age of seven. He has grown up on the Middletown Arts Center’s stage and has volunteered at the MAC in numerous capacities from performer to summer camp counselor. His mother, photographer Tammy Marsini, serves on the Board of the non-profit Middletown Township Cultural and Arts Council, which operates the Arts Center.

To Kathy Rauffer and her late husband, Walt Rauffer, a pioneer in television broadcasting and engineering, the Middletown Arts Center meant more to them than just bricks and mortar. Walt donated his expertise and time to create the Art Center’s state-of-the-art theater sound and lighting system and worked the equipment for performances. The Rauffer Family purchased a brick in his honor.

“Walt started volunteering in 2007. He felt the organization was truly community focused and he loved the diversity there,” says Kathy. “With so many threats to the arts, Walt wanted others to see the value the Arts Center offered, and he praised its value every chance he had. He wanted people to embrace it, and get behind everything it offered.”

Walt was Technical Director for the Children’s Television Network’s Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and many other commercial sets. He worked with stars like Big Bird, Jim Henson and the Muppets, Misterodgers and Bill Cosby.  Highlights from Walt’s career include the creation of the first mobile news truck,  the creation of Sesame Street’s first tape room at its 81st Street Theater set, and a 1978 Emmy Win for Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.

According to Kathy,  “Walt told me that when he graduated from RCA Institute and told his father he was getting a job in television, his father said ‘why don’t you get a job in something that will last?’ — Walt just knew when something felt right and had the potential to grow and take off.  That’s the way he felt about the Middletown Arts Center –he knew it would succeed. ”

The Arts Center relies on donor contributions to maintain its affordable, year-round arts and cultural programs. In 2013, the MAC  boasted over 60,000 visits from area residents of  all ages and abilities. Those interested in purchasing a brick can download an order form at www.middletownarts.org or visit the Arts Center.

The public is invited to the Time Capsule Celebration on June 21. This free, family friendly event will feature a parade, the burying of the time capsule, entertainment and more!  Brick donors will be recognized at this event and the “Anniversary Plaza” will be dedicated later in the year.

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