YSU awarded NEH grant for American Music film series

YSU and the Dana School of Music, in cooperation with Stambaugh Auditorium and the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, have been awarded a $1,500 grant to participate in a national program: America’s Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway. The grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities was secured by the Tribeca Film Institute and awarded by the American Library Association.

The application was spearheaded by YSU, and in particular, Ewelina Boczkowska, assistant professor of Musicology at Dana. YSU was chosen as one of 82 libraries and non-profits nationwide to participate in the program.

“I was perusing the NEH website and looking through their list of grants when I came across this grant,” said Boczkowska. “It caught my attention because it is a neat six-week program about America’s music, but it also features films, different documentaries and discussions about different kinds of American music.”

In fall 2011, Boczkowska was involved in a similar project at the Museum of Labor and Industry in conjunction with the Smithsonian’s Traveling Exhibitions , New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music. Boczkowska coordinated the programming to complement the displays. “It was wonderful to have an exhibit and also a program, and I hope we can achieve something similar with this grant,” she said.

“One of the things that we value greatly in the College of Fine and Performing Arts is supporting our partners in arts and culture in the community and in the region,” said Bryan DePoy, dean. “This is an excellent example of how the university can partner with the local non-profits and support their initiatives, and I think in this time of contracting resources, we have to think creatively about how we can collaborate.”

The program will consist of six hour-long film screenings, provided by the ALA, with additional time for scholar-led discussions and performances at the discretion of the hosts. According to DePoy, the cost to YSU is little to nothing, as admission could be charged if necessary. The program will run at some point yet to be decided during the 2013 fall semester, and will be held at Stambaugh Auditorium.

The film topics and subsequent programs are: Blues and Gospel, Tin Pan Alley and Broadway, Bluegrass and Country, Rock and Roll, Mambo and Hip Hop, and Swing Jazz.

“There are six events that we will end up doing, based on the films that they send us, and then we can do events to supplement those; either concerts, lectures or parties, based on the time period of the music that the film revolves around,” said Michael Crist, Dana director. “Initially what we had talked about is having a guest lecturer come in, an expert on the time period that we’re looking at. One of the reasons we wanted to be involved with this is to have concerts that would revolve around the style of music that we’re talking about.”