Arts council applies for grant money

FRONT ROYAL – The Blue Ridge Arts Council hopes to receive continued state and local funding. The Town Council approved at its regular Monday meeting the organization’s application to receive the Virginia Commission of Arts $4,500 Creative Communities Partnership Grant.

If approved, the town would provide $4,500 in matching funds, of which the council  would receive $4,000. The Front Royal Oratorio Society would receive $500 from both the town and the Virginia Commission of Arts.

This continues a decade-plus long tradition, as the town has provided matching funds for the grant since 2000.

In a letter to the Town Council, BRAC’s board of directors stated that the grant is vital in funding art exhibits, art enrichment programs, instructional programs, and community outreach programs.

“We realize how difficult and trying the local economy can be, and the many challenges the town faces each year in regards to funding, but feel that we provide a very vital and necessary service to the town and its residents,” the letter states.

Councilman John Connolly said the grant is a “good deal for our community” and “allows us to bring this grant money to support the arts in this community, doubling the money that we put down.”

Councilman William Sealock voted in favor of the application “with some reservation.” He noted that money used for the grant is budgeted under tourism, and suggested it be moved to the general fund as a community grant.

Last year, BRAC officials said the organization reached over 15,000 residents through 75 art events and that it showcased 250 artists. One of BRAC’s larger events is the annual Gazebo Gatherings weekly summer concerts.

“Blue Ridge Arts Council has been the cultural mainstay in our community thanks in large part to the support of our organization through your continued funding,” the letter states.

Front Royal Oratorio Society Treasurer David Freese noted that the grant money will allow the organization to continue performing three annual concerts.

“Our organization brings neighbors together through the arts, while at the same time fostering hometown civic pride and encouraging local tourism which is good for area business,” he said.

If the grant is approved by the Virginia Commission of Arts, the money will not be made available until the town provides written confirmation that the matching requirement has been fulfilled. The Town Council directed Town Manager Joe Waltz to file the necessary paperwork showing the town’s intention to match the grant.