The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has been named a grant recipient by the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA announced awards totaling more than $27.6 million in its first funding round of fiscal year 2016, including an Art Works award of $15,000 to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to support summer music programming at the Blue Ridge Music Center.
The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields.
The Blue Ridge region has produced more old-time and bluegrass musicians per capita than any other region and serves as the epicenter of many of America’s living music traditions. “Preserving the cultural heritage of the Blue Ridge Mountains is central to our mission,” said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the nonprofit Foundation. “This grant allows the Music Center to continue introducing thousands of visitors each year to the cultural legacy of the communities surrounding the Blue Ridge Parkway.”
The Music Center is operated by the National Park Service, and programming is coordinated through a partnership with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. Each summer, the Saturday concert series features bluegrass, Americana, country, old-time, and country blues artists. In 2015, the amphitheater hosted up-and-coming bluegrass and Americana groups, Grammy winners, National Heritage Award winners, and beloved regional musicians. Each day during the May through October season, local and regional musicians entertain and educate visitors with free Midday Mountain Music performances.
“The arts are part of our everyday lives — no matter who you are or where you live — they have the power to transform individuals, spark economic vibrancy in communities, and transcend the boundaries across diverse sectors of society,” NEA Chairman Jane Chu said. “Supporting projects like the one from the Blue Parkway Foundation offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”
In its first 50 years, NEA awarded more than $5 billion in grants to recipients in every state and U.S. jurisdiction, the only arts funder in the nation to do so.