$1.7 Million in NEA Grants Help Orchestras Across the U.S. Increase Access To Classical Music

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Rachelle Schlosser, Director of Media Relations
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NEA FY13 Art Works (Part One) and Challenge America Grants Highlight Orchestras’ Innovative Programs, Including:

  • Workshops and Concerts for Economically Disadvantaged Children
  • Concerts for Adults with Disabilities and the Elderly
  • The Use of Technology to Engage New Audiences
  • Culturally-Aware Repertoire in the Concert Hall
  • Community-Based Concerts and Activities

New York, NY (January 3, 2012) – Recently announced National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works (Part One) and Challenge America grants totaling nearly $1.7 million focus on upcoming programs that orchestras have created to increase access for underserved populations and engage new audiences.

These orchestra programs vary widely, from educational or engagement initiatives for economically disadvantaged children, the disabled or the elderly; to the use of technology or culturally-aware programming in and out of the concert hall to reach a wider audience.

“NEA grants enable orchestras to better serve their communities with music,” said League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen, “both by supporting these innovative projects and by stimulating giving from other sources like private foundations, corporations, and individual contributors.”  

The full list of FY13 Art Works (Part One) and Challenge America grants, with project descriptions, can be found here.

Orchestras of all budget sizes across the country were awarded the grants, which were in the amount of $10,000 to $100,000 (all Challenge America grants were in the amount of $10,000, while Art Works (Part One) grants varied in amount).  Art Works (Part One) grants totaled $1,450,000 for 42 distinct orchestra projects while Challenge America grants totaled $240,000 for 24 orchestra projects.  Future FY13 grants will be announced for Art Works (Part Two) in 2013.

A sampling of innovative orchestral programs funded by these NEA grants include:

  • The Texas premiere in November 2013 (date tba) of a new concerto for electric violin composed by Kenji Bunch and featuring Youth Orchestra of San Antonio and soloist Tracy Silverman.  Both Bunch and Silverman will lead free workshops for economically disadvantaged youth in elementary, middle and high schools; young string players who participate in the Orchestra’s free, daily after-school music program and their families will also receive complimentary tickets to the concert.
  • A National Philharmonic Orchestra concert on March 2, 2013 featuring violinist Elena Urioste, who will also provide master classes for students at William E. Doar Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts, in Washington DC’s Ward Five.
  • Concerts for a variety of populations, including adults with disabilities and elementary students, by the Adrian Symphony Orchestra (Michigan), as well as a free rehearsal open to the public in advance of the orchestra’s all-Beethoven concert on April 20, 2013.
  • A series of performances by Great Falls Symphony and percussionist Evelyn Glennie, including a program for residents at the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind, an open rehearsal for university and high school students, workshops at high schools, and a concert on April 27, 2013.
  • Multimedia effects such as visual projections and installations will be featured in concerts given by San Francisco Symphony (Beethoven’s Missa solemnis on May 10 and 11, 2013), Erie Philharmonic (a birthday tribute to Wagner on January 26, 2013, with images from Western Pennsylvania graphic novelists projected above the orchestra), and Mid Texas Symphony (a multimedia performance of Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy and Holst’s The Planets, including a slideshow of planet photography assembled by an astrophysicist – date tba).
  • A concert on March 8, 2013 to include spirituals sung by Kathleen Battle and featuring the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Michael Morgan.  The event marks several anniversaries - the founding of American Anti-Slavery Society and Abolitionist Movement (1833), the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation (1863), and the passing of Harriet Tubman (1913).
  • Separate concert series in Brooklyn, NY’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood  and Washington, DC’s Shaw neighborhood, organized by the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the National Symphony Orchestra.  The Brooklyn Philharmonic received support for a concert at a local library, a family workshop, and in-school music education residencies, while the National Symphony Orchestra will have a two-week residency with two full-orchestra concerts, small ensemble concerts, education activities and more.

The full list of FY13 Art Works (Part One) and Challenge America grants, with project descriptions, can be found here.

The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of more than 800 orchestras across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned symphonies to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles. The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement for managers, musicians, volunteers, and boards. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform music lovers around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners. Visit americanorchestras.org.