IBMA Foundation announces 2019 grants

The IBMA Foundation, the charitable arm of the International Bluegrass Music Association, has announced the recipients of its grant funding for 2019.

Awards for this year total $14,000, the largest total since the foundation was started in 2007. Grants typically run between $1,000-$2,000 each, and are given to organizations who promote and preserve bluegrass music in their communities, with a special focus on programs for young people learning to play.

2019 recipients include:

  • Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum (Bluegrass Music Educational Tours) – Owensboro, KY
  • The Bradford House Historical Association (Exploring the Roots of Bluegrass at the Whiskey Rebellion Festival) – Washington, PA 
  • California Bluegrass Association Father’s Day Festival (Fostering Closer Ties with Japanese Pickers and Fans) – Grass Valley, CA
  • City of Morganton, NC Parks & Recreation (Junior Appalachian Musicians “JAM” Program) – Morganton, NC
  • Durango Bluegrass Meltdown (Bluegrass in the Schools Program) – Durango, CO
  • The Hindman Settlement School (Pick & Bow After-School Music Program) – Hindman, KY
  • The Kanack School of Musical Artistry (Bluegrass Program) – Rochester, NY
  • The Monroe Mandolin Camp – Nashville, TN
  • San Diego Bluegrass Music Society (Summergrass Kids Camp) – San Diego, CA
  • The Wintergrass Youth Orchestra – Bellevue, WA

The function of the Foundation is to accept donations from those interested in supporting the bluegrass arts, but don’t know exactly who the most reserving recipients might be. They bundle all of these gifts and distribute them through a competitive process each year.

More details about making a donation or applying for future grants can be found online.

The following information was provided by the Foundation about the 2019 awards.

The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Owensboro, KY will use its grant for group tours for students in the region. In October 2018 the museum moved into a new site with enhanced exhibits, a 447-seat theatre, and spaces for enhanced educational programming. It is anticipated that more than 3,500 students will learn about the history and preservation of bluegrass music through these tours. 

The Bradford House Historical Association’s “Exploring the Roots of Bluegrass” youth workshop at the Whiskey Rebellion Festival in Washington, PA will enlist the help of Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons. The goal of their performances at the festival is to provide an exploration of the structure and early roots of bluegrass music—specifically the influence of African American musicians. Hunter and Seamons are Seattle-based songster revivalists who perform acoustic blues, bluegrass, fiddle tunes, banjo breakdowns and ragtime jazz.

The CBA Father’s Day Festival will include a “Fostering Closer Ties with Japanese Pickers and Fans” program at their annual festival in Grass Valley, CA. With the goal of building closer ties with the Japanese bluegrass community, the Foundation grant will fund an international CBA Music Camp scholarship and also help pay for an educational presentation by Kazuhiro Inaba, a member of the Keith Little Band. CBA eventually hopes to help communities in Japan to establish music camps, using CBA’s adult and youth programs as models.

The City of Morganton, NC Parks & Recreation grant will be used to implement an after-school Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program for local students. Co-sponsored by the Burke Arts Council, the program will offer low-cost lessons in fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and bass on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. The program will also make available beginner and advanced-level classes, loaner instruments, snacks, band-development jams, and community-based performances. 

The Durango Bluegrass Meltdown in Durango, CO will offer an educational outreach program to a dozen local schools during the 2019 festival, as the “Bluegrass in the Schools” program celebrates its 25th year. The Durango Music Meltdown is a three-day event run by volunteers which promotes the growth and preservation of bluegrass music as an original form of American folk art. Included are public performances, workshops and other events of an educational and participatory nature. 

The Hindman Settlement School Pick & Bow After-School Music Program is a low- to no-cost music education program that teaches bluegrass and old-time music in Kentucky’s Knott and Floyd Counties. Weekly lessons in singing, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar and dulcimer are offered at Hindman and May Valley elementary schools. Open to students age seven and older, classes are available for differently abled students. Instruments may be rented for $25 per semester for the free lessons, but no student is turned away due to lack of funds. Participants experience the rich musical traditions of Appalachia and learn to perform and cooperate in a string band ensemble. At the end of each semester, Pick & Bow students from three different counties perform together.

The Kanack School of Musical Artistry’s Bluegrass Program in Rochester, NY, led by Benjamin Proctor, began three years ago. One evening a week, students are invited to participate in a collection of bluegrass ensembles including a Junior Jam Band (ages 6-13) and other groups which mix teens and adults. Kanack’s Summer Fiddle Camp offers lessons on violin, viola, cello, piano, mandolin, banjo, guitar, ukulele, fiddle, flute and voice. The grant will support bluegrass program and fiddle camp scholarships, and will also allow songwriting to be added to the school’s composition program. The program immerses students who might not otherwise have exposure to bluegrass music, as well as offering performance opportunities to those who are already involved with bluegrass.

The Monroe Mandolin Camp is hosted in the Nashville, TN area every year by legendary mandolinist Mike Compton. A stellar cast of teachers provides group and individual instruction, special presentations, concerts and jamming focused on the original bluegrass music of Bill Monroe. Mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, upright bass, harmony singing and master-class band lessons are included. Other topics include bluegrass history, instrument construction and maintenance, music theory, dancing and health issues for musicians. The camp is committed to providing access to the arts for traditionally underserved artists and constituents; 39 percent of participants are females. The grant will help to fund youth camp scholarships.

Summergrass San Diego, a bluegrass music festival sponsored by the San Diego Bluegrass Society and the San Diego North County Bluegrass & Folk Club, each year hosts a Kids’ Camp for 30-40 students age 6-16. Lessons on guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, bass, Dobro and vocal harmony are included. If a child does not own an instrument, one is provided. Minimal tuition is charged, but scholarships are available for economically challenged families. Summergrass Kids Camp culminates in a live mainstage performance before a large and enthusiastic crowd. This is the only bluegrass instructional camp for children in southern California. Grant funds will help to provide youth scholarships and pay professional musicians who teach.

The Wintergrass Youth Orchestra, part of the four-day Wintergrass festival held at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, WA each February, is composed of 100 students from six regional middle schools who gather for a months-long program to learn and play music composed by award-winning bluegrass and Americana artists. Designed to bridge the gap between classical and oral tradition, students learn ear training, study traditional songs and styles, and are exposed to both classical string and traditional bluegrass instruments. Beginning in 2009, Beth Fortune (2017 CMA Recipient for Teacher Excellence) and Dr. Renata Bratt (former president of the Suzuki Music Association of California) created the program in response to the growing number of local string students who can read music and are looking for additional opportunities.

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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.