Mission: Staunton Music Festival’s (SMF) mission is to offer exceptional chamber music performed by international caliber musicians at historic venues throughout Staunton in a way that is accessible to all. Concert programs are innovative and seek a balance between old and new music. SMF musicians include local, national, and international artists, many of whom are acclaimed for their knowledge of historical performance traditions.
Community Need: The community is deeply engaged with the arts and culture, and the SMF seeks to build on strong foundations created by such organizations as Frontier Culture Museum, American Shakespeare Center, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, ShenanArts, Oak Grove and so many others. The SMF believes that music can be a transformative force in a community. With the diversity and innovative nature of their performances, combined with the professionalism brought by over 70 of the world’s finest musicians, there is nothing like their Festival in the region. Individuals who have had their lives changed by the power of music can certainly testify to the significance this art holds for their lives; all would feel the significance were music not available. With the restrictions placed on music education in the public schools, it is an extremely important time to continue all efforts to supplement public awareness and exposure to world-class art, regardless of means, age, mobility, or location. To that end, one of their principal programs is the Free Noontime Concert Series. In this series the SMF addresses challenges experienced by many members of this community who lack adequate resources to attend ticketed concerts. Moreover, they are held during the daytime to make nighttime driving not an issue or barrier to attendance. Lastly, the events are more casual and last no longer than one hour–both of which entice children, families, and non-traditional concertgoers to attend.
Constituents Served: Everyone is eligible for their services. Since the beginning, local residents of Staunton and Augusta County have constituted the majority of their audiences. In recent years the balance has shifted toward an equal split between local and nonlocal (greater than 50 miles). Their audience is generally middle-aged and brings some experience with classical music. The SMF works hard to reach new listeners who do not always have the experience or finances typical of a traditional concert-goer. All concerts are free for youth ages 18 and under; and more than half of all SMF events are free for everyone. Moreover, SMF has kept ticket prices low in order to make their concerts as widely accessible as possible. In 2017, total attendance reached just over 8,000; within that they estimate roughly 1,400 unique individuals, of which approximately 380 were children under age 18.
Primary Activities: Their signature event is their summer music festival. Lasting 10 days and presenting 30 concerts, lectures, and workshops, it features over 70 of the world’s finest classical musicians performing at historic venues in downtown Staunton. The festival offers the Free Noontime Concert Series (10+ free concerts daily at noon) and ticketed concerts each evening. They also present a variety of other musical events and lectures over the course of the year. In addition, SMF hosts the Musical Spark program, a creative writing/art project that brings together music and poetry for hundreds of local students. Finally, they host several Outreach Concerts that serve inner-city, rural, and institutionalized communities.
Amount Requested: $10,000
Operating Budget: $270,000