IBMA Foundation Announces $11,600 in grants for 2018

The IBMA Foundation, formerly known as the Foundation for Bluegrass Music, has announced the recipients of its 2018 funding grants. Since merging with the International Bluegrass Music Association late last year, the Foundation has continued in its primary mission of offering an easy way for those interested in providing support for the furtherance of the music, without the need for carefully researching all the possible recipients. That is the Foundation’s work, and each year they provide grants of up to $2000 each to worthy organizations.

The number and amount of grants each year is dependent on donations received in the previous year. For 2018, they are delighted to award them to 9 different groups, located in every corner of the US.

Grant recipients for 2018 include:

  • Black Swamp Arts Council, Tri State Youth Bluegrass Initiative (Archbold, OH)
  • Bluegrass Ambassadors with the Hanna Miners, Silver Sound Foundation (Carbon County, WY)
  • Coda Mountain Academy Summer Music Festival (Fayetteville, WV)
  • Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival (Fairbanks, AK)
  • Grey Fox Educational Fund, Grey Fox Bluegrass Academy for Kids (Oak Hill, NY)
  • Makers Guild of Maine, Vacationland Bluegrass Camp (Searsport, ME)
  • Nashville School of Traditional Country Music (Nashville, TN)
  • San Diego Folk Heritage, Julian Family Fiddle Camp (San Diego, CA)
  • The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, Professional Development Seminar for Musicians (Abingdon, VA)

The Foundation provided these brief descriptions of the 2018 grantees, and the work they do for bluegrass and traditional music.

The Black Swamp Arts Council’s Tri-State Youth Bluegrass Initiative in Archbold, Ohio will make it possible for interested elementary and middle school students to attend 10 hours of free, after-school group lessons and weekend mini-camps, taught by local veteran bluegrass musicians. Local sponsors will step in to fund additional lessons, youth bands will be formed, and the young musicians will get the chance to perform for their families and area bluegrass fans at a local venue. Youth in northwestern Ohio, northeastern Indiana and southeastern Michigan will benefit from this program.

The Bluegrass Ambassadors with the Hanna Miners, hosted by the Silver Sound Foundation, will bring two full days of bluegrass music instruction to three small elementary schools in Carbon County, Wyoming on April 9-10, 2018. Instruction will be provided by Chicago’s Henhouse Prowlers. Assemblies and classroom workshops will cover bluegrass music and its roots, as well as why music has been important to mining communities like Carbon County since the western expansion of the U.S. There will be square dancing, and the Henhouse Prowlers will also perform with school bands at a concert for parents.

The Coda Mountain Academy’s Summer Music Festival, held near Fayetteville, West Virginia, is a two-week, residential music camp which focuses on providing high-caliber musical  opportunities and training for students regardless of their socio-economic status. Coda offers tracks in bluegrass and classical music during its Summer Music Festival, and the faculty are graduates of top music schools and conservatories throughout the U.S. Musical exposure to unfamiliar styles of music on a daily basis is beneficial to both students and instructors, who often perform together in recitals and public concerts. Far beyond mere tolerance for each other’s differences, this kind of collaboration demonstrates diversity, versatility, and inclusiveness to the students, while encouraging exploration and appreciation across musical cultures.

Instruction in American roots music, with a focus on bluegrass music, has been offered as a part of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival in Fairbanks, Alaska since 2008. The roots program draws 40 students from the local area, as well as 200 audience members. Specifically, students learn improvisation and composition, intro to roots-style acoustic bass playing, arrangements for string bands, banjo lessons (chords and solos), and songwriting. Attendees also tour Denali National Park and other communities in the interior of Alaska.  

The Grey Fox Bluegrass Academy for Kids, near Oak Hill, New York, consists of four days of intensive training in acoustic stringed instruments, including sectional and ensemble practice, harmony singing and songwriting, culminating in a main stage performance by the students as part of their “graduation.” No fees are charged for the academy, so the program is accessible to school-aged children interested in bluegrass, regardless of socio-economic status. As instructors teach children to play and appreciate bluegrass, they strive to instill a life-long passion for the music and to help preserve the American art form by passing bluegrass music on to the next generation.

The Vacationland Bluegrass Camp hosted by the Makers Guild of Maine is open to all ages, with students under 18 accompanied by an adult. Instruction is offered on fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass, banjo, ukulele, voice and instrument care. Makers Guild is a non-profit organization which promotes art and music in mid-coast Maine. The goal of their September bluegrass camp is to offer a friendly, low-key environment where people of all ages can learn to play bluegrass music. The camp is located at Searsport Shores Oceanfront Campground, on the shores of Penobscot Bay in Searsport, Maine. Veteran bluegrass musicians from the region (and beyond) have been recruited to teach. A student concert is held on the main stage on Sunday afternoon.

The Nashville School of Traditional Country Music based in Nashville, Tennessee celebrates the deep-rooted history of American country music and dance through inclusive, encouraging, group-oriented education. By harnessing the resources of a uniquely talented community, the group seeks to ignite passion, develop confidence, and provide the tools necessary to hone lifelong skills and appreciation—thereby preserving Nashville’s rich cultural history for future generations. The Foundation grant will help cover the costs for lessons and instrument rental for eight students, for one semester.

The San Diego Folk Heritage, Julian Family Fiddle Camp, held in Julian, California, is an immersion-style, four-and-a-half-day acoustic roots music camp started in 2011 by Avery Ellisman. To date, over 400 people from across the U.S. and abroad have attended the camp, learning to enhance and improve their skills at playing guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin and upright bass while increasing their personal network of music friends. JFFC engages up to 15 professional musicians as camp instructors each year, many of whom are leaders in and performers of bluegrass music. The Foundation grant in 2018 will help to pay banjo and guitar instructors.

The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail will host a Professional Seminar for Musicians in the fall, as a part of their Traditional Music Education program. The one-day event will serve musicians age 16 and older from the southwestern area of Virginia who are in the beginning to intermediate stages of their careers. Goals for the seminar are to heighten the awareness of professionalism in self-representation for musicians and to help participants develop skills that will benefit their careers in music. 

The IBMA Foundation accepts donations of any size, and they can be made online using PayPal or a major credit card. As a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible. To discuss larger donations or planned giving, you can contact them by email.

To apply for a 2019 grant from The IBMA Foundation, please read the guidelines posted online. To be considered for next year, grant applications must be received by December 1.

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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.