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NEA $15K grant supports HU

National Endowment for the Arts awards Barbershop Harmony Society $15K grant supporting Harmony University

The Barbershop Harmony Society knows that strong choral music educators at the middle, high school and college levels inspire young singers to a lifetime of artistic growth. To support these vital leaders, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded the Barbershop Harmony Society a $15,000 grant for the Music Educators And Directors Project at Harmony University 2020.

The intensive week-long school will provide professional artistic development and training for music educators and front line directors, combining customized instruction, workshops, master classes, performances, presentations and the debut and creation of new works. BHS estimates that these musicians will then create a ripple effect reaching more than 30,000 young singers per year, for whom barbershop can provide a point of entry to a lifetime of singing.

Now in its fiftieth year, Harmony University is the pre-eminent education event for close-harmony singing, each summer drawing together more than 700 students and faculty from all walks of life and around the world. The NEA grant will support a portion of the program costs related to HU’s Music Educator College, one of several learning paths that also include Performing Arts College for choruses and quartets, Directors College, general studies for individuals, and unique chorus participation opportunities for young singers in the NextGen Mixed Chorus.

A strong application highlighted the exceptional quality of instruction offered at HU from credentialed expert faculty, and the resulting consistently high satisfaction expressed by students. NEA application reviewers commented very favorably on the artistic excellence, merit and impact of barbershop today. The ultimate impact is even greater: substantial evidence shows that when people sing together, their lives are improved and their communities are healthier. If people singing together is good, more people singing together will be even better.

Building a culture of institutional philanthropy

The NEA grant is the first of its kind earned by the Society, and is a vital first step in growing institutional philanthropy for the organization. “Meeting the rigors of the NEA granting process signals to other public and private funders that BHS clearly understands its mission, carefully stewards its resources, and delivers meaningful, measurable impacts in the communities it serves,” said Kevin Lynch, Chief Strategy Officer. Over the past five years, the Society has built a culture of measurable impact in its business practices-- important metrics that help tell the story of the ways barbershop changes lives. The Society’s strategic vision, Everyone in Harmony, expands the reach of that impact to encompass men and women of all ages, genders and expressions, beliefs, and abilities -- a breadth of service highlighted in the application and in demonstration videos that supported the request.

Learn more

ABOUT BHS: The Barbershop Harmony Society is a leader in community singing and adult music education, with more than 19,000 members across North America; allied men’s and women’s organizations in more than a dozen countries bring the total number of active singers to more than 50,000 worldwide. Through active programs in music education, publishing, performance and outreach, the Society preserves and extends the reach of a uniquely American close harmony musical art form whose roots lie in African-American improvisation. Founded in 1938, the Society now expends nearly $1 million annually in support of community and school programs that bring the fellowship, fulfillment and excitement of vocal music to a new generation of singers, funded in part by generous donors through Harmony Foundation International. Follow the Barbershop Harmony Society on Twitter @barbershopnews and on Facebook (
For additional information, contact Brian Lynch, or 615-673- 4131.

ABOUT THE NEA: This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit