Staunton Music Festival receives NEA grant for $10,000
Staunton, Virginia – National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced this week that Staunton Music Festival (SMF) is one of only 163 not-for-profit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Challenge America grant. Chu said, “I’m pleased to be able to share the news of our support through Challenge America including the award to Staunton Music Festival. The arts foster value, connection, creativity and innovation for the American people and these recommended grants demonstrate those attributes and affirm that the arts are part of our everyday lives.”
According to Jason Stell, Executive Director of the Staunton Music Festival, the $10,000 Challenge America grant will help underwrite SMF’s free noontime concerts during the acclaimed 10-day festival in August. The daily noontime concert series is also supported with a grant from the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge.
“In 2014, we had an unprecedented surge in attendance at our noontime concerts, up about 20%,” says Stell. “Venues were filled to capacity, and it was incredibly exciting to see all ages at these concerts. Knowing that nearly half of the 5200 people who attended concerts last season did so at free events is a very rewarding feeling. We believe strongly in the power of great live music to enrich people’s daily experiences and sense of community.”
The Challenge America category supports projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. The NEA received 347 eligible Challenge America applications and will award 163 grants for a total of $1.63 million.
“Staunton has long supported investing in arts and culture to support not only our local identity, but also to help build our tourism assets,” said Sheryl Wagner, Director of Tourism. “Staunton Music Festival’s continuing growth and success has been very positive for Staunton – the festival has emerged as one of our signature summer music events.”
Last summer, the festival enjoyed its highest attendance ever, with packed houses during both the free and ticketed evening programs. “It’s through the longtime support of these local audiences, together with organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, that we are now expanding the breadth and depth of our offerings as we move into the future,” says Stell.
About Staunton Music Festival
Established in 1998, the Staunton Music Festival (SMF) aims to engage and enrich audiences with a diverse selection of chamber music, performed by an exceptional group of international and American artists. SMF also promotes new music and education, collaborating with music institutions and emerging composers.
(photos by Leslie Kipp)