At a press conference earlier this afternoon in Owensboro, KY, Governor Steve Beshear committed the Commonwealth of Kentucky to provide the necessary funds to complete the new International Bluegrass Music Center overlooking the Ohio River in downtown Owensboro.
The center will serve as the new home of the International Bluegrass Music Museum, and their International Bluegrass Hall of Fame, including a 500 seat concert hall, rooftop restaurant, research library, classrooms, and an international meeting hall.
It will span an entire city block, provided on a no-cost 99 year lease from the city, near other new construction downtown, and adjacent to the new Downtown Owensboro Convention Center, several new hotels, and a new $64 million waterfront park. Owensboro has also committed $3 million to the construction.
After being introduced at the Convention Center, the Governor joked, “I know this is April 1st, but we are not here for an April Fool’s joke.” He then went on to announce a $5 million commitment from the state in the form of reimbursements to the city for various public transportation projects, which the city can then allocate to the IBMC project.
“I am happy to announce, that we have found a way to fill the $5 million gap and get this project completed. I know you can’t wait,” said the Governor, “and I can’t wait either.”
These funds represent the last of the money needed to begin construction of the Center. Groundbreaking is scheduled for later this summer, with completion expected in 2017.
Terry Woodward, who has served as the driving force for this project, as well as the International Bluegrass Music Museum, thanked the Governor, saying “we are going to make you very proud. This is a great investment for the state of Kentucky.” Woodward then talked about the work that had been done raising the $15.3 million dollars necessary to begin the construction. He cited the support by the City of Owensboro, as well as the nearly $5 million donated by the bluegrass community as a whole. “When I started raising this money, I got very few ‘no’s’” Woodward said.
Woodward closed by reading some emails from bluegrass and country music luminaries, including, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Doyle Lawson, and Dolly Parton, all congratulating the Museum on this milestone.
Dolly’s note said…
Congratulations! I am proud for you and so proud of you for your commitment to the preservation of bluegrass with the new International Bluegrass Music Center. My grass will always be blue.
And Jerry’s read…
“For many years now, Bluegrass Music and Owensboro, Kentucky have been tethered. I know I speak for a lot of people when I say it’s very fitting and absolutely wonderful that the the people of Owensboro have created the International Bluegrass Music Center. Congratulations to all.”
Doyle Lawson, also expressed his gratitude…
“A heartfelt congratulations and much appreciation to the leaders and citizens of Owensboro, KY for their continuing efforts in promoting and preserving Bluegrass Music and it’s history. The ‘Man’ from Rosine, KY would be mighty proud of you!”
When asked, about the importance of this project for Kentucky, Governor Beshear said, “Kentucky is the home of Bill Monroe and bluegrass music, and this solidifies that and puts us on the map.”
Speaking for the IBMM Board of Directors, design committee Chair Rosemary Conder said, “The board is very grateful to the state of Kentucky; in particular, the Governor and elected Representatives for their tremendous support of our organization and the realization of bluegrass music as Kentucky’s gift to the world.”
It’s no secret that Owensboro would love to see the IBMA World of Bluegrass convention return to where it all started there in 1986. Consider the successful completion of the International Bluegrass Music Center as a piece of that puzzle.
Sean Dysinger contributed to the reporting for this post.