Local orchestra awarded National Endowment grant

Lewisburg — The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra has recently been awarded a 2019 ArtsWorks grant by the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C. This award, from the nation’s foremost arts agency, is highly competitive; each year thousands of organizations from across America seek it. The selection process is rigorous, making an ArtsWorks award a mark of distinction for its recipients.

Through this program, the National Endowment for the Arts promotes opportunities for people in communities across the country to experience the arts and exercise their creativity. NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “The NEA is committed to advancing learning, fueling creativity and celebrating the arts in cities and towns across the United States. Funding these new projects like the one from The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra represents an investment in both local communities and our nation’s creative vitality.”

For its ArtWorks project, the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra will perform concerts of historic American music in historic theaters across the United States.

“This will be a perfect match of sound with setting,” said the Orchestra’s executive director, Leslie Cullen. “It is musical heritage brought vividly to life by showcasing the classic American theater orchestra in its ‘natural habitat.’ Our purpose is to advance awareness of an important era of American music amongst general audiences by putting high quality performances into venues that typically operate on very limited budgets and are located in older downtown areas working toward revitalization.”

The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, founded and directed by Rick Benjamin, has been based in Lewisburg PA since 1992.