The IBMA Foundation is really on a roll this year, bringing new ways to support young bluegrass artists to the fore on what seems like a monthly basis. The Foundation is the charitable and educational arm of the International Bluegrass Music Association, bundling gifts from donors of all types into enduring scholarship programs and grants of many kinds.
Today they announce the latest, in honor of Fletcher Bright, one of the most charismatic figures in bluegrass until his passing in 2017. The Fletcher Bright Memorial Grant for Young Musicians will be made annually to help cover costs for lessons, educational materials, instrument rental or purchase, workshops, and camps for bluegrass students at any level. Amounts given will vary with the requests made. The Foundation will consider financial need but such is not required to receive this grant.
Fletcher also has the reputation as a generous philanthropist in our music. A dedicated bluegrass and old time fiddler since the 1940s, he built a real estate business in residential and commercial development from his home on Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga. The company grew to be quite successful, with offices in both Chattanooga and Atlanta. Before he died, Bright funded a scholarship for those studying roots music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and invited the recipient each year to Chattanooga to perform at the free Three Sisters Bluegrass Music Festival, itself an example of his generosity.
Initial funding for the Fletcher Bright Memorial Grant for Young Musicians comes from the surviving Bright family, Thomas J. Brown of Dalton, Georgia, and Barbara Martin Stephens of Madison, Tennessee, whose combined gift of $29,000 will endow the grant. Like all programs of the IBMA Foundation, other individuals or associations can add their own contributions to this, or any other grant or scholarship under their management. Awards are derived from income made through investments of these funds, and additional donations are greatly encouraged to allow for growth of these amounts.
Board chair Fred Bartenstein shares the gratitude and excitement of the Foundation with this news.
“We are so pleased about the establishment of a grant to help with educational expenses for young bluegrass musicians, named for Fletcher Bright. His colleagues know that Fletcher loved teaching as much as he loved playing the fiddle. We thank the Bright family, Tom Brown, and Barbara Martin Stephens for their generous donations to found the Fletcher Bright Memorial Grant for Young Musicians, and it is our hope that friends and fans of Fletcher will also support the grant program.”
Applications for awards from the Fletcher Bright Memorial Grant for Young Musicians will be available in April on the IBMA Foundation web site, where you can find information on their many scholarship programs, as well as making donations to these or other efforts.