Granada theater sign

Chorus America, the advocacy, research, and leadership development organization that advances the choral field, has awarded $950,000 to 21 inaugural grant partners of its new Music Education Partnership Grants program. The grant partners, located across the program’s four regions – British Columbia/Northwest U.S., Central Appalachia, Southwest U.S., and Upper Midwest – each received grants of up to $50,000. Grant awards will support collaborative projects between community organizations and elementary, middle, or junior high schools during the 2022-23 school year, plus

workshops, peer learning, and participation in Chorus America’s annual conferences for the grant partner cohort. Projects of the 21 grant partners are designed to increase access to choral music education and promote non-arts learning and cultural literacy, while upholding the principles of access, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

BARC and its partner, Mercer County Schools, will use the proceeds of the award to provide opportunities for intergenerational group singing in Bluefield, West Virginia, using choral music to bring together students with parents, grandparents, guardians, and caregivers. BARC and Mercer County Schools have a strong relationship, currently working together at the Granada Theater to deliver Lessons in Film Education, a film-based educational tool developed by the non-profit. The choral music program made possible by this grant will build on this successful partnership. Students will come from three schools in Bluefield serving grades K through 8: Bluefield Primary, Bluefield Intermediate, and Bluefield Middle.

“We are pleased to partner with Mercer County Schools to increase educational opportunities in the arts, in this instance using the historic Granada Theater to offer after-school choral singing programs to students and their parents,” said Brian Tracey, Executive Director of BARC.

In determining the recipients of this highly competitive and prestigious award, Chorus America employed a two-phase review process to understand the alignment of each project with the program’s core values. A team of 30 panelists from across the U.S. and Canada reviewed applications and participated in virtual learning sessions with the applicants. In addition, Chorus America engaged a group of 12 community advisors with a wealth of expertise and diverse experiences to help co-create this program based on the needs of potential grantees in the regions this grant program will serve. BARC was one of only two recipients of the grant in West Virginia.

The development of an intergenerational after-school choral music program is consistent with BARC’s purpose to use the arts to create opportunities for education, employment, and entertainment in downtown Bluefield.