The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Focus on the Arts

March 25, 2012

'The board exists because we all care'

Venue of Merging Arts has a small number of board members doing a large amount of work.

Board chairman Adam Mundok said five is the minimum number of board members allowed, and that is the number presently at VOMA.

Those five members, including Karen Mesaros of Pittsburgh, who is on staff for development, outreach and marketing, do everything from coming up with ideas and events to executing them, including running the show.

“The board exists because we all care and have been here for generations,” Mundok said.

“We want to do our part.”

Venue of Merging Arts began in 2009, when Dennis and Janet Mical purchased the former St. George Serbian Orthodox Church with the idea of creating a place to give their artist sons, who were out of the area, a reason to return to  Johnstown.

Adam Mundok goes more toward music, film and photography, while his brother, T.K., is into fine arts.

“Outside the emerging arts and cultural district in Cambria City, there was nothing to hold us,” Adam Mundok said.

“The board started with family interests and values, and the mission statement of VOMA plays into the interests of the family. The mission becomes personal – how to give the boys something to do.”

The mission of VOMA is to rescue a historically significant former church building by transforming it into a matchless venue in which various forms of artistic expression can merge together to promote, educate, entertain and involve the community in the arts.

“This plays to our strengths,” Mundok said.

“From a social perspective, my brother and I want to create and have a place for what we enjoy doing. We find others with like minds that want something like this to exist, and it adds a new layer and dimension to what Greater Johnstown has to offer.”

“Artists gravitate to the cultural center. With Art Works, Bottle Works and JAHA operating out of the same neighborhood, they’re great anchors.”

In addition to Mundok’s stepfather, Dennis Mical, who serves as treasurer, and his brother, T.K. Mundok, who serves as secretary, the board includes several friends.

Mary Jo Berardone of Windber is a friend of the family and involved with community organizations.

“She has a good focus on what the community needs,” Adam Mundok said. “She wants what is best for the Johnstown community. She was an easy pick.”

Mundok’s longtime friend Mike Hruska of Davidsville, who heads the consulting company Problem Solutions, serves as vice chairman.

Hruska also is a musician who has performed at VOMA.

“Mike brings a music and business sensibility,” Mundok said.

“That’s vital in making decisions and integrating with our vision in the community.”

Mundok would like to expand the board in 2012 and add an advisory board.

Key board positions to be filled are coordinators for entertainment, marketing, grant writing and volunteers. He sees advisory board members as professionals with an interest in what VOMA is doing.

“We need them to plug in and figure out how to make VOMA work for the community,” Mundok said.

“I want to put together teams of people who would be like a hub and connect with the board. When we have an event, we need help to execute it.”

Mundok said VOMA exists to bring art and culture to Johnstown and to give its youth a place that suits their interests.

“We provide a home for original art and music, a place to come to show and play,” he said.

“Our kids need to be creative. It’s important for the human condition. 

“Our niche is to focus on original music to complement Bottle Works and Art Works.”

Also the former church building that houses VOMA as well as other historic buildings in Cambria City give visitors the chance to see architecture that is not being built today.

“We can be proud we do have historic preservation and can see art    from people who live here,” Mundok said.

“We can look at the strengths of what made Johnstown what it is. I’d like to see Cambria City become a destination for tourists.”

Mundok also would like to influence those who return to Johnstown for their roots and family to stay here by providing them art and culture.

“People need to take responsibility to make Johnstown a better place to live,” he said.

“There’s more to life than paying   the bills, work and family. We get caught up in the routine, but we need to step out of the routine and get moved. We need to fulfill our needs with spiritual uplifting, artistic enrichment and the ability for intelligent stimulation.

“That’s what art does.”

Directors

Members of the board of directors of Venue of Merging Arts are:

Chairman: Adam Mundok of Johnstown.

Vice chairman: Michael Hruska of Davidsville.

Secretary: T.K. Mundok of Springdale, Allegheny County.

Treasurer: Dennis Mical of Westmont.

Member at-large: Mary Jo Berardone of Windber.

 

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