Arts grants benefit locals

Published 3:00 am Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA) awarded 120 grants totaling $1,568, 605 at its meeting in Troy on Sept. 4. This round of grants will support arts in education, folk art, community, literature, performing and visual arts programs Oct. 1, 2014 through Sept. 30, 2015.

Several Pike County arts organizations were notified last week that they had received ASCA funding. The Brundidge Historical Society, the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, The Troy Arts Council and the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center received a total of $16,915 for programs and events.

The Brundidge Historical Society received a grant award of $1,000 for its annual Chili Country Christmas supper, songs and stories event. The Pioneer Museum’s grant award was in the amount of $4,500 for Pioneer Days in October. The Troy Arts Council received $8,790 for its performing arts season and the Cultural Arts Center was awarded funding in the amount of $2,625 for the ArtBridges in School program.

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Lawrence Bowden, president of the Brundidge Historical Society, said much of the credit for the arts programs offered through the BHS goes to ASCA.

“Fourteen years ago, we went to ASCA seeking funding for a folk life play on the drawing board,” he said. “We had dream and a building with a hole for a floor. ASCA awarded the BHS $2,500 and that was a big vote of confidence for us. The fall season of “Come Home, It’s Suppertime” will close out our 13th year.”

Bowden said ASCA funding was seed money for the annual Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival, which is in its ninth year and other storytelling events performance including the Chili County Christmas storytelling concert.

“The arts are alive in Brundidge, in great part, because of the support of the Alabama State Council on the Arts and we greatly appreciate their support,” Bowden said. “And, not only of our organization, but of the arts in Pike County and all around the state.”

Kari Barley, Pioneer Museum of Alabama director, said the ASCA grant is greatly appreciated and will make it possible to bring students from area schools to Pioneer Days in October.

“The ASCA grant funds will be used to bus students to Pioneer Days,” Barley said.

“Many schools are not able to provide transportation to our folk history day. Producing art is fruitless unless there’s someone to witness it. By providing bus mileage, students from Pike County and from Montgomery to Dothan and in between are able to have this experience. The ASCA grant makes it possible and we are thankful for it.”

Barley said 1,200 students participate in Pioneer Days in 2013.

“It was great fun and learning experience for them,” she said. “Pioneer Days brings history to life as students get to see first-hand how Alabama pioneers lived and worked.”

Old-time demonstrations will include woodworking, blacksmithing, wood stove cooking, quilting, spinning and weaving and tin crafting. Some of the activities are hands-on and provide a greater understanding and appreciation of the folk art.

Ruth Walker, Troy Arts Council president, said the TAC is most appreciative of the support of the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

“The support the Troy Arts Council receives from ASCA is extremely important to our programming,” Walker said. “ASCA’s support makes much of what we do possible. We greatly appreciate the grants that we receive. ASCA was very generous to us in the recent round of awards in support of our performing art season.”

The TAC has seven events planned and the grant funds will be used to bring these events to Troy, Walker said.

Vivace, a quartet of pop and classical singers, opened the TAC season Tuesday. The grant will also support the TAC’s other events, “Sally Mayes, Broadway Babe” in October, The Harlem String Quartet in November, Shelia Jackson and Company in December and the Texas Guitar Quartet in February. The Vienna Boys Choir will return to the Crosby Theater by popular demand in March.

“These are all high quality concerts and ones that you would expect to find in large cities,” Walker said. “We are honored to be able to bring them to Troy and thank ASCA for helping make them happen.”

For the Johnson Center for the Arts, the grant award is an opportunity to increase its art education program.

“The Johnson Center’s ArtBridges program includes a summer teachers’ workshop, which is lead by a highly recognized Alabama artist,” said Wiley White, Center development director.

“Teachers in all Pike County schools are invited to attend and learn more and different way to incorporate the arts into the curriculum.”

White said the conducting artist returns to the county during the fall school term and actually works with teachers and their students in the schools.

“The teachers who attend the workshop have priority when requesting an artist presentation in the classroom,” White said. “By going into the classrooms, hundreds of students get to work with and learn from a master artist. We appreciate ASCA’s support as we continue to offer art education programs in the schools of Pike County.”

The Alabama State Council on the Arts is the official state arts agency of Alabama. The staff of the Council, directed by Al Head, administers the grants program and provides technical assistance in arts planning and programming. The Council receives its support through an annual appropriation from the Alabama Legislature and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.