In February 2008 I wrote a column for Bluegrass Now magazine about a new foundation that the International Bluegrass Music Association had just created. In honor of our lucky thirteenth anniversary, I’ll share that column with you this month. Thanks for your support of our mission, and for your dedication to making the future of bluegrass music brighter by sharing it with the next generation!

IBMA establishes a new charitable organization
by Nancy Cardwell

February is the month to eat a lot of chocolate in honor of St. Valentine’s Day, and also to pause and think about the things we love most.

When you care about someone, you want to provide tor their future. I think it was Mitch Jayne of the Dillards who said, “Bluegrass doesn’t make fans; it makes believers.” Those of us who believe in and treasure bluegrass music—either as players or listeners—care deeply about its future. We want to preserve its history and make sure it’s delivered safely into the hands of the next generation. One way to do this is by making a contribution to the new Foundation for Bluegrass Music [the name was changed to the IBMA Foundation in 2017], a nonprofit charitable organization created by IBMA to serve as an umbrella under which funds can be placed and disbursed to support educational, literary and artistic activities of public benefit.

Dick Barnhart was a founding member of the Capital Area Bluegrass & Old-time Music Association and a lifetime member of both IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. In addition to teaching at a music store in Arlington, VA, during the 1970s and ‘80s, Dick fronted the group Rapid Run at a weekly local gig. A gifted mountain dulcimer player who could take breaks on bluegrass instrumentals, Dick also played guitar and Dobro with Bill Taylor’s Capital Gospel Band. To show his support of local and touring bluegrass musicians, he regularly bought their latest CDs and tapes. Taylor says his friend Dick “even bought a local youngster—a very good musician—a $5,000 custom-built Gibson mandolin, in hopes he would become one of the next ‘kid stars.'”

Dick Barnhart, who flat out loved bluegrass music, passed away from complications of diabetes on December 19, 2005. “The reception for his funeral was a concert by a band made up of some of the area’s best bluegrass musicians and a feast catered by Moonlite Barbecue of Owensboro, KY—they shipped it to me frozen!” Taylor said. “Dick made me promise his funeral would be a happy occasion to remember, and it was.” Though he never married, Dick loved children. “He wanted his money to do something for children and something for bluegrass at the same time, and the IBMA Bluegrass in the Schools program is a perfect fit!”

At the 2008 World of Bluegrass in Nashville, Bill Taylor announced a gift from Barnhart to the Foundation for Bluegrass Music. The gift was expected to be approximately $200,000, once the estate settled.

Contributions to the Foundation may be designated to support an existing program, or donations may be unrestricted and left to the discretion of the board as to where they can best be used. The Foundation’s 501(c)(3) tax status means gifts are tax-deductible as charitable donations. Potential recipients of funds may include bluegrass in the schools programs (grants, workshops and other resources), academic conferences, literary works, public artistic presentations of an educational nature, historic preservation, and other bluegrass-related works of a charitable nature. Foundation funds might go to support programs at the International Bluegrass Music Museum [now the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum], for example. Or they could support entirely new projects.

(Reprinted with permission of Wayne Bledsoe, publisher of Bluegrass Now – Feb. 2008 issue)

Return to February 2021 issue of The Cornerstone.