By Justin Hill
In the midst of the U.S. Congress’ late summer break, N.C. District 1 representative G.K. Butterfield has spent time in his district this week visiting constituents and presenting grants.
On Wednesday, he made stops in Kinston and Snow Hill.
“As many of you know, North Carolina has long, deep roots in music, dating back to some of the greats such as (Hamlet-born) John Coltrane,” he said. “It is only fitting that we commemorate the legacy of musicians from this great state with a landmark to the thread of African-American music, weaved into the rich cultural fabric of North Carolina’s eastern region.”
Included in his Kinston stop Wednesday morning was a $100,000 grant that will go toward the implementation of the African-American Music Trail. The grant was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts. Community Council for the Arts Director Sandy Landis said the funds will be used during Phase 1 of the project, which is set to begin construction in 2013.
“The African-American Music Trail celebrates the heritage of our community and it’s a very important part of that heritage,” Landis said. “(But) it’s also taking a look at how arts can drive creative economies; how we can develop South Queen Street — and how the music trail can be a catalyst for that.”
Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy agreed the project is a good opportunity to highlight an interesting part of the city’s heritage.
“Very few people understand or know the number of famous musicians that were either born here or came through Kinston during their careers,” he said. “What this grant will do is to help us to continue to tell that story. I’m a firm believer, and I think our community is, that the arts are a very integral part of our community — and the arts are for anybody.”
In Snow Hill, Butterfield visited the Greene County Health Centers and the Carolina Family Health Center. The center has provided primary care to “underserved” populations in the region for 40 years. The congressman’s tour also included grants workshop, targeted to small-business owners and nonprofit organizations. The workshop offered access to grants experts and customized break-out sessions to address specific needs.
Along with the check presentation, Butterfield also offered a look into the debates being waged on Capitol Hill.
“I dare not come to the community and make a few non-political observations about what’s happening in the U.S. Congress,” he said.
Butterfield said the lead-up to the November general election will probably hinder a lot of the work that needs to be done, but added, following the election there are important decisions to be made, including passing a budget.
“We will have on our plate an agenda unlike anything we have ever seen in our country — we have a lot of unresolved issues,” he said. “Congress has a tradition of kicking the can down the road … politicians like to delay … but there are some issues that we cannot kick anymore.”
Justin Hill can be reached at 252-559-1078 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mjhill.
Some of the grants which are supporting the African-American Music Trail:
$150,000 from Golden LEAF and $258,000 from DOT for public art projects
$100,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts
$75,000 from NCAC for artists in schools and community
$65,000 from NCAC for three-year follow up interviews, documentation, photographs, website
$50,000 through NCAC cARTwheels program for dance programs in schools
$30,000 from NCAC for TAPS jazz mentorship program
$20,000 in SEATRAC grants through Tourism Development Authority
$5,000 from N.C. Arts Council for initial folklorist interviews
Source: Community Council for the Arts