Suffolk Center receives technology grant

Published 6:09 pm Friday, April 16, 2021

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Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts has virtually reinvented the arts during this pandemic to continue to provide a forum where diverse audiences can actively participate in cultural experiences.

Over the past year, the Center created live-streaming “Together on Stage” music concerts, virtual art exhibitions, more than 100 virtual arts education videos and implemented new ways to support local artists with online shopping. The Suffolk Center’s virtual transformations were made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Birdsong Trust, providing much-needed upgrades to the Center’s information technology capabilities.

The Birdsong Trust grant honors a friend of the Suffolk community, John Harrell, who died in November 2019 after a long battle with cancer. He was known for his quick wit, generous spirit and as a smart businessman and owner of Suffolk Iron Works Inc. John Harrell served as a Suffolk Center Board of Directors and his efforts were integral in the transformation of Suffolk High School into the area’s only full-service Cultural Arts Center.

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“This gift made by the Birdsong Trust Fund precisely epitomizes the type of gift that our beloved former Chairman John Harrell would have ‘jumped on’ as it reflects the very essence of the mission statement for which the Birdsong Trust Fund was originally created — to help worthy projects of local organizations who then help the citizens of Suffolk and the surrounding area,” said Billy Chorey, current chairman of the Birdsong Trust Fund. “Yes indeed, my good friend would have loved this and in many ways, I strongly believe he does in fact know.”

Thanks to the Birdsong Trust’s gracious award, the Center has purchased 14 new computers and monitors with built-in cameras so that the staff could participate in Zoom meetings. The Center also installed new Wi-Fi access points throughout the 73,000 square foot building to provide additional bandwidth and internet speed for Suffolk students participating in remote learning during the Suffolk Arts Enrichment Program and Renaissance School of the Arts homeschoolers classes held on-site.

“On behalf of the Suffolk Center’s board of directors and staff, we are greatly appreciative of the Birdsong Trust’s $23,540 grant to the Suffolk Center in memory of their past president, and our mutual friend, John Harrell, who served on the first Board of Directors for the Suffolk Center 20 years ago and was a steadfast supporter of the Center until his passing in 2019,” said Susan Lawrence, Suffolk Center’s retired executive director. “Because of John’s connection with the Suffolk Center, it was our honor for Birdsong Trust to consider remembering him in some way here.”

Donations are a wonderful way to honor or memorialize a friend or loved one. Contributions, no matter the amount, make an impact and support Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts education programs to outstanding activities, exhibitions and performances.

Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization; donors may enjoy the benefit of tax deductions to the extent permitted by law. To make a donation to the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, please visit or contact SCCA development director Susan Stone at 923-0003, ext. 102. For more information on the Suffolk Center visit Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts is located at 110 W. Finney Ave. For additional information contact the SCCA Office between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at 757-923-0003.