Wisconsin Conservatory of Music
Press Release

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music Receives National Endowment for the Arts Award


By - Jan 16th, 2020 06:04 pm

MILWAUKEE — The National Endowment for the Arts announced this week that a nonprofit, Milwaukee-based community music school is one of 145 recipients nationwide of a Challenge America grant to support a summer artist-in-residence music program primarily for children from economically-challenged neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music will use the $10,000 Challenge America grant – together with a total $12,500 cost-share match from the United Performing Arts Fund, Milwaukee Bucks Foundation, and Milwaukee Public Schools Partnership for the Arts & Humanities – to bring two national guest artists to its citywide Summer Music Institute to be held weekdays, June 21July 2.

The first guest artist, Brandon Boyd, has been nationally active in social justice issues, including directing a women’s prison glee club in Tallahassee. He appears regularly as a conductor, clinician, composer in residence, collaborative pianist, and lecturer for conferences, collegiate choirs, choral festivals, and workshops. He is assistant director of choral activities and an assistant professor of choral music education at University of Missouri.

The second guest artist, Bolokada Conde, is a master drummer from Kissidougou, Guinea. He is an expert of Malinke or Mandinka rhythms, one of the world’s foremost djembefolas, and was featured in the IMAX movie, “PULSE: A Stomp Odyssey.” He has been performing and teaching in the United States since 2014.

A free Milwaukee community concert tied to the Summer Music Institute will maximize the impact of the national guest artists and the NEA Challenge America grant.

Guest artists will serve as mentors, and as examples of musicians who have reached a high level of excellence through hard work and dedication. All institute students will choose instrumental and/or vocal areas of study to help them identify their talents and passion. The two-week summer program for students in grades 3 through 12 will offer a combination of private lessons and group instruction, including band, orchestra, choir, drumming and an instrumental exploration class.

The National Endowment for the Arts’ Challenge America grant primarily supports projects of small and mid-sized organizations that extend the reach of the arts to populations with limited access to the arts due to geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Each Challenge America grant is for a fixed amount of $10,000 and requires a minimum $10,000 cost share/match from other funders.

“The arts are at the heart of our communities, connecting people through shared experiences and artistic expression,” said Arts Endowment chairman Mary Anne Carter. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support projects like the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music’s national artist-in-residence for its Summer Music Institute.”

Eric Tillich, president and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, said the grant will help strengthen the nonprofit school’s mission: “Inspiring individuals and communities through exceptional music education, accessible to all.”

“Through the incredible generosity of the NEA, and our funding partners the United Performing Arts Fund, Milwaukee Bucks Foundation, and MPS Partnership for the Arts & Humanities, we can inspire children from Milwaukee with national renowned artists at our Summer Music Institute,” Tillich said.

“We know that programs like this provide the launching pad for our students to pursue their musical dreams,” Tillich added.

The Conservatory offers a greatly reduced tuition cost for Milwaukee residents and Milwaukee Public Schools students to make the Summer Music Institute accessible to all interested students. The Summer Music Institute also participates in the Milwaukee Public Schools’ reduced lunch program.

The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music’s Summer Music Institute expects to enroll about 200 students from across Milwaukee with broad musical interests and skill levels.

Through the Summer Music Institute, the Conservatory helps create pathways for underserved students to study individually with the community music school’s renowned faculty. In 2018, the Conservatory raised more than $200,000 for private lesson scholarships and financial aid.

Overall, the National Endowment for the Arts approved 1,187 grants totaling $27.3 million for the first fiscal 2020 funding cycle to support arts projects across the country, including nine in Milwaukee.

For more information on projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news and check out @NEAarts on Twitter. For more information on the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, check out wcmusic.org or follow us on Twitter @wcmusic1899

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