Ground to break on Owensboro Bluegrass Center

International Bluegrass Music CenterThe proposed International Bluegrass Music Center, which will serve as the new home for the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, KY, is slated for groundbreaking in the next few weeks.

In addition to a 30,000 square foot space for the Museum, the new center will house a 1,000 seat concert venue, a 4,500 square foot restaurant with a bluegrass music theme, and room for 2,000 people at an outdoor festival spot. There will also be space for specialty bluegrass vendors, all located along the scenic riverfront in Owensboro.

The IBMM has been raising money for this project for the past two years, with assistance from both the city and Davies County governments. Owensboro has pledged $3 million to the effort, and the county has just pledged an additional $500,000. According to the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, a delegation from both entities are planning to meet soon with Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear, who is said to be interested in helping as well.

The Kentucky legislature had recently made substantial cuts to funds appropriated to support tourism in the Commonwealth, so it is unsure what the Governor’s office can do.

To date, the Museum has raised $8.5 million of the proposed $12 million budget. At the start of this campaign, plans were to rehabilitate the old State Office Building downtown, with a $10 million price tag, but further study showed that option to be unworkable. Revamped plans to demolish the old edifice and start fresh on that site will cost a projected $12 million, with an addition $3.5 million yet to be raised.

With the new pledge from Davies County in hand, work to bring down the State Office Building and break ground for the new center will be scheduled to begin in June.

It is no secret that local officials would like to lure the annual World of Bluegrass convention back to where it started in Owensboro, and the building of the new Music Center is part of that effort. It will also host the IBMM’s annual music festival, ROMP.

Fundraising continues with online pledge and payment options offered on the Museum’s web site.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.