CLEMSON — The Brooks Center for the Performing Arts has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Challenge America: Reaching Every Community Grant will support morning performances by the American Bluegrass Masters and the African Children’s Choir this season.  

Designed primarily for small and mid-sized organizations, the grant provides funds to cultural agencies like the Brooks Center for projects that extend their reach to underserved populations, those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics or disability.

“We are extremely grateful to received the grant,” said Lillian Harder, director of the performing arts center. “The fund will be used to support two Tri-ART performances.”

The morning concerts will feature legendary bluegrass musicians J.D. Crowe and Bobby Osborne Nov. 16 and the African Children’s Choir Feb. 10, 2010.

Named in honor of two Clemson benefactors, the Bill and Donna Eskridge Tri-ART Series is the Brooks Center’s educational outreach program for area school children. Each season, the center presents a variety of morning events for students in kindergarten through the 12th grade.

This season, the Tri-ART Series is comprised of “mini-concerts” by the American Chamber Players, the American Bluegrass Masters, harpist Bridget Kibbey and the African Children’s Choir. “Henry and Mudge,” “The Rainbow Fish,” “Junie B. Jones” and “Harry the Dirty Dog” are among the theater productions set for Tri-ART. The university’s jazz ensemble, symphony orchestra, percussion ensemble and steel band also will perform.

“The concerts, plays, theatrical and dance performances are designed to give participants the opportunity to experience the arts,” said Harder. “In many cases, the series is the only exposure many area children have to live music, dance and theater.”

Last season, nearly 15,000 students saw Tri-ART performances. Tri-ART is open to public and private schools, as well as to home-schooled students.  

Supported by donations made to the Brooks Center, Tri-ART performances are $2 or free of charge, a fact of which Harder is very proud. 

“We are so thankful to the individuals, families and local businesses for their support of Tri-ART,” she said. “It is our wish that every student in Oconee, Pickens and Anderson counties participate in the program. The NEA grant will help meet that goal.”


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