Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Facility Would Include Concert Area, Theater and Much More ; BLUEGRASS MUSIC CENTER

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Facility Would Include Concert Area, Theater and Much More ; BLUEGRASS MUSIC CENTER

Article excerpt

Plans are in motion for a new International Bluegrass Music Center in Owensboro, Ky., a project that local officials hope will enhance the Ohio River city's appeal as a tourist destination for fans of the music worldwide. In early July, the city approved a $3 million grant for the new downtown facility, which would involve the renovation of the former State Office Building at Second and Frederica streets. That grant is contingent on the International Bluegrass Music Museum's ability to raise another $7 million from private sources.

Architect estimates put the cost at nearly $10 million, according to Terry Woodward, the chairman of the IBMM's board of trustees.

"I think we can raise $3 million from what I call 'major donors,'" Woodward says. "And I've had preliminary talks with two or three of them. I think it's doable. I think there's that much interest. I also think we could come up with a half- million dollars in corporate sponsorships...

"So that leaves $3.5 million. And all I have to do," he says with a laugh, "is get 350 people to give me $10,000, and we're there."

The new facility would include the IBMM, that currently is housed in the RiverPark Center. In addition to providing the museum with a new home, it would include a restaurant, theater and an open-air venue for live music with lawn seating that would accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 people.

Woodward and Mayor Ron Payne firmly believe that bluegrass, a genre that continues to grow in popularity around the world, could make Owensboro singularly synonymous with the music - similar to the connection that Nashville, Tenn., enjoys with country and New Orleans has with jazz.

"For years and years, we've kind of been looking for a branding opportunity," Woodward says. "They hired consultants to come in and everything, and it's been right here in front of us all the time.

"Bluegrass kind of symbolizes family," he continues. "It's clean entertainment, and if we can create this 'bluegrass opry,' then there will be some trickle-down effects in the community. …

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