Applications for Arnold Shultz Fund grants are due January 31, 2023. The IBMA Foundation’s Arnold Shultz Fund supports activities that increase participation in bluegrass music by people of color.

People of color are people with racial/ethnic backgrounds that are underrepresented in bluegrass: Black, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Indigenous First People, Indigenous Pacific Islander, etc. Applicants may be individuals, schools, groups, organizations, or government entities. Priority will be given to programs, activities, or individuals that demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity and serving diverse, underrepresented populations in bluegrass music.

In 2022, the Foundation awarded $19,170 in Arnold Shultz Fund grants to seven programs and individuals, including the following:

  • Dancing with the Spirit (Fairbanks, AK), bluegrass song videos and curriculum for Alaskan village schools
  • Jam Pak Blues ‘N’ Grass (Chandler, AZ), Fair Black Rose Band World of Bluegrass CD
  • The Kealakai Center for Pacific Strings (Kailua, HI), Dreadnought Hawai’I – The Royal Hawaiian Roots of America’s Acoustic Heart, documentary film
  • Oscar Chilumo Mbwana and Stephanie Waithera Mwaura (Nairobi, Kenya), Zoom fiddle lessons
  • The Oakland Public Conservatory of Music (Oakland, CA), Black banjo & fiddle fellowship
  • PineCone (Raleigh, NC), Arnold Shultz tribute performance at IBMA’s World of Bluegrass and documentary video
  • Eric Shi (Liang Shi), (Zhjiang, China), educational bluegrass videos

Shultz funds also provided bluegrass lesson scholarships for people of color last summer at the Louisville Folk School in Louisville, Kentucky, and an additional $10,000 from the Pisgah Banjo raffle was granted to the Black Banjo Reclamation Project. Lee Zapis collaborated with Deering Banjos to purchase 10 Goodtime banjos for a BBRP banjo building retreat in January 2022.

Arnold Shultz (1886 – 1931) was an African American musician from western Kentucky and a mentor to Bill Monroe, who credited Shultz with influencing his approach to playing music. Best known as an extraordinary guitarist and fiddle player, Shultz often played guitar with Bill Monroe’s fiddle-playing uncle, Pendleton (“Pen”) Vandiver. It was at these gigs that Monroe met Arnold Shultz and began to emulate his backup guitar style. Shultz was impressed enough with Monroe’s progress that he hired Monroe to play guitar with him at dances, thereby giving Monroe his first professional music jobs.

Click here to download the application for Arnold Shultz Fund grants. For more info, email or call (615) 260-4807.

Click here to return to the January 2023 issue of The Cornerstone.