(Jasper, Indiana) – Three entities involved in downtown Jasper projects teamed up today to announce a joint community capital campaign called Jasper LEADs which stands for (L)ibrary, (E)nrichment, (A)rts, (D)owntown. The effort is to raise funds for civic and community enhancements including the proposed Jasper Cultural Center, housing a library and the city arts department, the renovation of the Astra Theater in downtown and redevelopment of the downtown Courthouse Square.
The campaign goal is $8 million spearheaded by a challenge gift proposal of $1.7 million from Jasper residents Jim and Pat Thyen directed to the Arts. Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz said that spurred the community campaign idea. “Rather than have the supporters of these projects separately seek private contributions, they are collaborating to conduct a single major campaign.”
At a news conference conducted in City Hall, the running theme was one of community enrichment. Mr. Thyen emphasized the importance of the arts as a tool to recruit talent and challenged the community by asking citizens, “to shift energies away from what should be done with the Library at the Mill Street complex and focus on how we can successfully revitalize our core”. Thyen encouraged those in attendance to “be positive about our future and to send that message to our youth”.
Library Board President and current City Councilman, Dean Vonderheide, expressed similar sentiments underscoring that “there is no time like the present to invest in our future.”
Jasper Community Arts Commission President Mike Jones indicated that “the entire eleven member board supports this endeavor wholeheartedly.”
Next Act board member, Jay Hamlin, believes that restoration of the Astra Theater “will only enhance our community for those of us who live here and make our community more inviting for those seeking a new place to call home.”
Longtime downtown business owner Maureen Braun stated, “People want more to do when they visit and citizens want more offerings, especially for children. We have creative people, entrepreneurs, who are ready to do collaborative things right now”.
Jasper LEADs advisor, Brad Ward, commented that “Jasper LEADs signifies the opportunity to make a difference by repeating what Jasper has done before – investing in Jasper for residents, visitors and future generations.”