Award winning executive director, staff let go earlier this year
The following letter was sent this week to the Rappahannock News from the board of directors of the Bluemont Concert Series.
It is with a heavy heart that the Bluemont Concert Series Board of Directors announces the termination of Bluemont programs and administrative operations, effective June 30, 2018. Following a series of planning sessions over the past 18 months, the Board decided that the non-profit Bluemont Concert Series as currently organized lacked the financial footing to continue.
Since 1976, Bluemont’s unique public/private partnership has been a part of the cultural fabric of our 34 Virginia communities. It has presented more than 9,648 cultural programs in local schools, nursing homes, special events and summer concerts to 3.2 million families and visitors. Bluemont’s extraordinary cultural legacy was built on the generous support of local government and private donor partners as well as the participating communities it served. We are immensely proud of our history over the past 41 years and treasure the many wonderful memories created by quality entertainment and cultural enrichment that we were so fortunate to present.
In an ongoing attempt to maintain our popular cultural programs, Bluemont has been actively engaged in reactive downsizing for the past 10 years. Traditional funding from state and local government appropriations has been steadily reduced from $263,000 in fiscal 2008 to $59,434 in fiscal 2018.
Bluemont strived to maintain community programs while offsetting the funding deficit each year by cutting costs and seeking other sources of revenue. While we continue to believe that music and art are critical to a well-rounded education, and vital to our beloved communities, our programs require resources to operate. Despite a storied forty plus year history, and ongoing conscientious budgeting, our resources have been exhausted.
Effective January 1, 2018, the Bluemont Board of Directors has with great reluctance released our award winning Executive Director, Lily Dunning Widman and her staff. The Board greatly appreciates Ms. Widman’s outstanding professional service and we wish her much success in her future endeavors. She and her staff gave countless hours to make Bluemont truly special and their commitment to excellence is to be commended.
Bluemont began in 1976 as a series of concerts and old time country dances in the Bluemont community but grew to include regional cultural programming in many Virginia communities such as our Artists In Education, Healthcare Outreach in nursing homes, and various other music, theatre, and dance special events. Bluemont stepped in to fill this important need when school budgets in the cultural programs were non-existent. We built support for the programs through the years and have been blessed to share our passion for the arts with young and old alike.
Programs like Bluemont do not exist without leaders and visionaries. The Bluemont Board’s recognition and appreciation for our many volunteers and sponsors cannot be adequately expressed in words. We are mindful that without their commitment and energy, Bluemont would have never existed and flourished for over 40 years. They have given more to the heart, soul and vitality of Virginia than they know.
Editor’s note: On the heels of this letter being sent to the Rappahannock News, the Allegro Community School for the Arts announced it will continue a scaled down version of Bluemont concert series and First Night, albeit solely in the Town of Warrenton.
“We were approached by the town about coordinating these events for Warrenton when Bluemont announced the organization’s termination,” explains Allegro Executive Director, Sam Yoder. “The events fit well within the mission of Allegro. Allegro is pleased to assume responsibility for the concert series and intends to conduct them in a way that honors those who created and sustained Bluemont for forty-one years. It is important that the concert series continue in the spirit of Bluemont and what they created.”
Allegro will schedule concerts on the Warren Green as Warrenton residents have become accustomed to and it hopes to bring back favorite bands while also attracting new talent to the stage.