KINGSPORT (February 11, 2014) – Eastman Credit Union presented a $250,000 gift to East Tennessee State University’s Arts Initiative on Tuesday, Feb. 11 that could equate to a $1 million impact, provided the region comes together to help ETSU reach its  funding goal of $9.5 million.

At a media event held at ECU’s Market Corner Branch in Johnson City, CEO and president, Olan Jones, encouraged donors to help ETSU reach its performing arts center goal in order to be eligible to receive matching funds from the state in a future budget cycle.  In addition, Jones expressed appreciation for the ECU Board of Directors who approved the donation to the ETSU Arts Center. 

The ETSU Arts Initiative partnership plans to make outstanding amenities available to the people of Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina with the addition of a performing arts center that will benefit the region from a cultural, artistic, education and economic standpoint.

“Currently, there isn’t a stage in this region that can accommodate a Broadway play or a full symphony orchestra.  The people of our region need to join together in a united effort to reach the $9.5 million goal as soon as possible,” said Jones.  

The ETSU Arts Initiative consists of a $38 million facility and includes a matching fund requirement for the university.  ECU’s commitment will support the stage in the concert hall that will seat 1,200 when complete.

 A venue for national tours, community performances, and educational opportunities for students as well as a resource for faculty, the regional performing arts center will host visual arts, music, theater, dance and storytelling events. It will also bolster the region’s local economy with job creation and revenue streams.

“The ECU Board of Directors recognizes and understands the value of performing arts to help improve the quality of life across our entire region. There’s as much in it for the people living in and around the region as there is for ETSU, so I encourage other supporters of the arts and our region to seriously consider the difference your contribution could make,” said Jones. 

Those wishing to donate will be encouraged by the various sponsorships available that range from seat sponsorships for only $250 each in one of the three performance halls to room sponsorships at various support levels.   Mr. James C. Martin has provided momentum for this initiative by providing the lead gift of $3 million toward this goal. The ETSU Foundation has committed $1 million as well.  For more information, visit

 “By working together we have proven that we can enjoy the beauty of our mountains and our small town pace as well as state-of-the-art facilities.  Through the efforts of dedicated citizens and community-minded businesses, we are fortunate to have Tri-Cities Regional Airport, the Kingsport Aquatic Center, Barter Theatre, Gray Fossil Site, MeadowView Convention Center and many other regional destinations.  When we work together for the greater good, we get things done.  The ETSU Arts Center is another feature that will make the Tri-Cities one of the greatest places to live,” said Jones.

“The generosity of Eastman Credit Union brings us one step closer to realizing a dream that began more than a quarter-century ago of having an arts center for ETSU and the community,” said ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland.  “ECU has been a true partner and friend to the university for many years, and we thank them for stepping forward with this significant gift that will benefit both ETSU and this region.

Noland added that the arts center has been approved by the state building commission and that the university is moving through the design process.

About Eastman Credit Union

With approximately 140,000 members worldwide and more than 500 employees, ECU operates 24 branch offices and more than 70 ATMs in four states, and provides access to over 55,000 surcharge free ATMs nationwide via the Allpoint Network. For additional information about ECU, visit or call (800) 999-2328. 

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