In keeping with our mission statement “to identify, cultivate, and expose artistic talent in our community,” the Ellington has instituted the Ellington MusicBridge—a program for at-risk children.
The value of a child’s exposure to quality musical performance and the opportunity to study an instrument is well documented, as is the fact that the music and arts programs are the first to suffer cutbacks from school budgets. The opportunity to study music is almost non-existent for low-income children. Obstacles such as transportation worries and expense prevent these children from participating in these types of programs.
The MusicBridge program started in 2003 with a series of concerts created by Lynchburg musician Lew Taylor and performed by his group Jazmine. “From Louis to Nelly—Pops to Hip Hop” was presented at Lynchburg’s seven Parks and Recreation Centers.
In 2008 The Ellington formed a unique partnership with the Lynchburg College Music Department and the Jubilee Family Development Center to provide music lessons to children who could not otherwise afford it. Currently 13 children selected by Jubilee are taking part in group piano lessons and music instruction.
The Ellington Fellowship playhouse is a non-profit 501c3 organization, and funding for the Music Bridge program so far has come strictly from patron donations and 50/50 raffles, as well as grant money from the Junior League of Lynchburg and BWX Technologies. More funds for music books and other instructional materials are always needed.