IBMA Foundation announces 2024 Project Grants

The IBMA Foundation, which raises and disperses funds to programs and initiatives that foster the growth of bluegrass music, has announced the 2024 recipients of their annual Project Grants. Organizations apply for these grants each year, and the amounts and number of grants given are based on donations received.

The Foundation is proud to have once again exceeded its grant totals from last year, coming in with $25,600 in disbursements for 2024. They gave out $24,000 in 2023, $21,334 in 2022, and $14,000 in 2021. Grants are going to 14 bluegrass programs in 9 states, plus ones in the Czech Republic, Great Britain, and Ireland.

Board Chair Fred Bartenstein says that its only through the generosity of others that the Foundation can share these resources around the world, with most grants in the range of $1,000-$2,000.

“A diverse list of recipients for 2024 will support bluegrass education for both young people and adults. We are grateful to donors who continue to support the Foundation. Their generosity has helped to support very deserving programs.” 

He also mentioned that some of this year’s grants had been sponsored by a bequest from Dick Barnhart, whose legacy gift in 2007 led to the creation of the IBMA Foundation, known then as the Foundation for Bluegrass Music.

The 2024 recipients of Project Grants are:

  • Arts & Enrichment Academy, Lakewood, California – A songwriting workshop with a bluegrass emphasis for special needs high school students. Participants will learn about bluegrass music, write a song, and perform it for an audience of family and friends. 
  • Ashokan Center, Olivebridge, New York – Tiered pricing to full scholarships for the 7th annual Bluegrass Camp, directed by Kimber Ludiker, July 29-August 2. Instruction and jamming will be offered on bluegrass instruments, as well as songwriting and harmony singing for 85-100 participants of all ages. 
  • Bluegrass Ambassadors, Chicago, Illinois – The Celebrating Czech Bluegrass program will provide three days of English language instruction with bluegrass music at two Czech schools taught by the Henhouse Prowlers, a Chicago-based band. They will also perform and host a symposium in Prague celebrating Czech bluegrass and capture content for a future video about the Czech bluegrass story. 
  • Chamber Dance Project: Ramblin’ Suite and Book of Stones, with the Red Clay Ramblers; Washington, D.C. – This  project will bring together contemporary ballet, old-time string band, and bluegrass music. The Red Clay Ramblers’ Ramblin’ Suite will reach new audiences for bluegrass in DC in 2024, as well as during a 2025 tour of North Carolina and performances at dance festivals.
  • Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky – A new exhibit at the Kentucky Museum on the WKU campus will include bluegrass songs and artists influenced by the Bowling Green region. Bowling Green in Song is part of a larger Sonic Landscape exhibit, which emphasizes the region’s bluegrass tradition, with spotlights on artists including Arnold Shultz, Bill Monroe, Sam Bush, and the New Grass Revival. 
  • Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee – The String Band Summit 2024, previously held at East Tennessee State University, is an academic conference focused on string band music of various types, including bluegrass and old-time music. Academic research presentations, panel discussions, live music, and a focus in 2024 on collaboration among bluegrass, old-time, and Asian music will be featured. 
  • Reeves Downtown School of Music, Elkin, North Carolina – The Tunes and Trails Camp Bluegrass Day and Community Concert is a camp hosted by the local JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) program. Bluegrass Day of camp week will include workshops led by professional musicians for campers and a free community concert. 
  • Savannah Music Festival, Savannah, Georgia – Two public performances will honor the 100th birthday year of Bluegrass Hall of Famers Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson with stories and songs. Doc at 100 and Tony Trischka’s Earl Jam, will include a virtual discussion on February 26, a pre-concert talk on April 5, and public performances on April 5-6 in Savannah. 
  • Earl Scruggs Center, Shelby, North Carolina – Born of the Broad River: The Life and Career of Earl Scruggs in his own words, 1924-1945 is a new exhibit that celebrates the 100th birthday of Earl Scruggs. Co-curated by Tony Trischka, it will include memoirs handwritten by Earl Scruggs from his family and a rotating display of banjos owned by artists inspired and influenced by Scruggs (Béla Fleck, John Hartford, Tony Trischka, Alison Brown, Tray Wellington, Tabitha Agnew Benedict). More than 1,000 local students will visit the exhibit. 
  • Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center, Robbinsville, North Carolina – The Stecoah JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) program will host a weekend of workshops for students in western North Carolina and beyond, led by professional musicians at the 10-acre art center campus in Robbinsville. Included are instruction in songwriting, clogging, how to jam, and harmony singing. 
  • Tellico Plains JAM, Tellico Plains and Madisonville, Tennessee – The afterschool Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) programs in Tellico Plains and Madisonville, TN, teach traditional Appalachian and bluegrass music to 4th – 12th graders. The programs are 100% free for students. 
  • Peter Ward, Palace Green Durham, United Kingdom – A project grant will help with Dr. Ward’s travel expenses from the UK to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he will host a Bluegrass in Britain and Ireland workshop for US-based academics and researchers at the String Band Summit to be hosted at Middle Tennessee State University, April 5-7, 2024. Ward (Durham University – UK) will collaborate with Dr. Mat Ord (Newcastle University – UK) and Dr. Lee Bidgood (East Tennessee State University) on a larger project to research and document the history of bluegrass in the UK. 
  • Westport Folk & Bluegrass Festival Universities, Westport, County Mayo, Ireland) – A partnership and collaboration of three academic institutions (two from the US and one from Ireland) to research, explore, and promote the deep-rooted cultural connections between bluegrass, old-time, and Irish traditional music, will take place during the weekend of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, June 7-9, 2024.
  • Wintergrass Music Festival, Bellevue, Washington – The youth education “Pay what you can” program will help with participation expenses for JAMz 1 (pre-school), JAMz 2 (elementary and middle school), JAMz3 (high school and college), and Youth Orchestra (high school) programs for young musicians at Wintergrass, February 22-25, 2024.

If you or your organization would like more information about applying for the 2025 Project Grants, the necessary details can be found online.

The IBMA Foundation is 100% funded by donations. Anyone who is in a position to make a contribution to their work is encouraged to consider doing so online.

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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.