Arts Council of the Valley announces Advancing the Arts grant awards

Arts Council of the ValleyArts Council of the Valley has announced its Fall 2020 Advancing the Arts grant awards, providing a total of $12,435 to 10 recipients.

“Advancing the Arts grants invest money in the vital arts infrastructure of our community,” ACV Executive Director Jenny Burden said, noting that grant funding for 2020 – in spite of COVID-19 – totaled almost $25,000. “These awards are a tangible expression of ACV’s continuing commitment to invest in creative projects designed to cultivate the arts and connect communities in the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.”

Advancing the Arts grants are generally awarded in two categories: Arts for Education, provided to educators and educational organizations, and Creative Inspiration, allocated to individual artists. Both types of grants support community-based initiatives in the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.

ACV added a third category to this fall’s funding cycle: a COVID-19 Artist Fund, with a grant range of $100 to $300 to help artists cope with the negative economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. One award was made in that category.

Arts for Education grants were awarded to:

  • Jessica Strawderman of Bluestone Elementary School for Embracing Identity & Singing the Mission: A School Songwriting Project, designed to connect students during this disconnected time. Students will learn the songwriting process and work together to write a school song that represents the diversity of Bluestone Elementary.
  • Maria Paz G. Esguerra of The Making Space, to support monthly Open Studio programs and community art events held at the Lucy F. Simms Center in the Northeast neighborhood of Harrisonburg.
  • David McCormick of Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival for Virtual Instrument Petting Zoo, adapting a successful in-person engagement program for online interaction. Plans call for the virtual version to become a permanent part of the SVBF website, reaching more people locally and around the world.
  • Leanne Shank of Shenandoah Valley Youth Symphony for Old Music for a New Generation, to connect upcoming musicians with both classical and folk music, and attract classical music aficionados and folk music enthusiasts to broaden appreciation of each genre.

Creative Inspiration grants were awarded to:

  • Ellie de Waal for Embodying Emily: A Dance Film, inspired by the poems and letters of Emily Dickinson.
  • Jeff Guinn for Language of Love, a public sculpture designed to be a space of rest, congregation, and dialogue, reminding area residents of the rich heritage of our local culture and the importance of continuing to welcome and draw in new people, experiences, and ideas.
  • Sue Ryan for Enchanted Garden, to provide an enhanced community garden space between the Summit Bank building and the Hardesty-Higgins House, while creating a new and accessible place to showcase local art.
  • Darla Stanley of Ensemble InterTwining for Running Absent, to support the development of a dance/music video investigating the human tendency to distract ourselves, avoid living in the present, and act absentmindedly as we succumb to escapism.
  • Erich Stem for Music about the Shenandoah Valley, composing a symphonic work for the James Madison University Symphony Orchestra as part of a larger, national initiative called “America By: A Symphony Tour.”

Fall 2020 grants cover projects to be completed by the end of May 2021. Advancing the Arts grant awardees may receive one grant – ranging from $500 to $1,500 – per calendar year.

Matching funds are not required for grant submissions.


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