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Mon Valley Academy for the Arts Inc. (MVAA) is taking its mission to the next level as it officially opens doors on its first administrative office, studio and music store.

Mark A. Smith, Founder of the Mon Valley Academy for the Arts

The four-year-old nonprofit's newly renovated space is located at the former Montgomery Ward department store at 309 5th St., in downtown Charleroi. In the past year, MVAA has secured nearly $60,000 in grants and private donations to advance its mission to develop performing, literary and visual arts programs for students of all ages. Since its inception, MVAA has focused on instrumental music, but plans to expand to all art forms in the future.

"Our love of the arts, particularly music, is the cornerstone of MVAA. Creativity should be nurtured," says Mark A. Smith, the organization's founder. "We are here to inspire, educate and encourage a new generation of rising stars."

MVAA educators, all professional musicians, will offer private instruction in guitar, piano, trumpet and drums. Also, the store stocked with high-quality music gear at discounted prices initially will be open by appointment. For information about programming, call the MVAA office at 724-565-1687 or e-mail

MVAA is the parent organization of the 17-piece Twin Coaches Junior Stage Band, a student program for budding musicians in grades 7-12. It also hosts the free EQT/MVAA Summer Concert series held in city parks in Washington County.

Among MVAA's most recent awards is a $19,250 grant from the Neighborhood Assistance Program of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which was expanded to $35,000 through UPMC-funded tax credits as arranged by Johna Pro, Southwest Regional Director for the PA Department of Community & Economic Development. The check was presented to Smith recently by Rick Vilello, DCED's deputy secretary, and Scott Lammie, CFO of UPMC Health Plan Inc. Other recent donations include $17,500 from EQT Corp., which is marking its fourth year as sponsor of MVAA's summer concert series.


The Twin Coaches Junior Stage Band, a student program for budding musicians in grades 7-12.




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