NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) _ A former American Idol is lending his name to one of the many charities that have sprung up following the December 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Country singer Scotty McCreery, who won the TV talent contest in 2011, has been named “Goodwill Ambassador” for the 12.14 Foundation, which is raising money to build a performing arts center in the town.

McCreery, who visited Newtown this past December, a year after the shooting, says he believes in the power of the arts as a positive force and wanted to find a charity that would be in Newtown for the long term.

“I think this will be something the town can use for years and years to come to help heal,” he said.

The Foundation last August put on a production of “Seussical: The Musical,” starring Newtown children with the help of Broadway professionals, including Tony Award-winning producer Van Dean.

Foundation founder Michael Baroody said the group is planning another production and other educational programming for Newtown.

The main project, building the arts center, is in its early stages and is being studied by an outside firm, he said. He could not say how much it would cost, or how close the foundation is to reaching its fundraising goals.

“Our goal is to build a state-of-the-art facility with substantial multi-media capabilities and broad appeal, so we anticipate that the cost will be substantial and the design and construction will take several years to complete,” he said.

The foundation’s filing last September with the state Attorney General’s office indicated it spent about $60,000 in Newtown so far, and had raised another $10,000.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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