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In spite of COVID-19, two Dana Point organizations have received grant funding from the Orange County Arts & Culture Resilience Fund, in an effort to promote and cultivate local arts.

To help offset the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fund, which is supported by Arts Orange County, Charitable Ventures and Orange County Community Foundation, is making support available to eligible arts nonprofits and individual artists. The aim is to help creative artists and sustain the nonprofit arts and culture organizations that enrich and educate Orange County.

Dana Point Symphony conductor Dean Anderson directs the orchestra during a performance on the brig Pilgrim. Photo by Andrea Papagianis

Two Dana Point organizations, Music Preserves Foundation and the Dana Point Symphony, were selected to receive grants. Music Preserves is a music foundation created to inspire a deeper level of appreciation for the music and musicians who created America’s art forms. The Dana Point Symphony’s mission is to provide world-class symphonic music to Dana Point and surrounding communities and make it accessible to everyone.

One of Music Preserves’ programs is an innovative curriculum for schools exploring the history and cultural significance of American music. Music Preserves has been working with Capistrano Unified School District and other Orange County school districts to include their American Music and Cultural History course beginning in January.

Earlier this year, to remain connected to students and the CUSD community, Music Preserves launched an online Artist Spotlight series, where they interviewed professional touring musicians, who shared stories from their musical journey and also performed a few songs. Each episode closed with a local student artist whose song was also spotlighted. Recently, Music Preserves partnered with the Ocean Institute for their virtual Maritime Festival, curating performances and interviewing bands on the history and maritime cultural significance of both Hawaiian and Irish music. According to Music Preserves Executive Director Anthony Small, the grant will help them to continue their work in schools and the community.

“The cancellation of music festivals, fundraising house parties and many other community events greatly affected our ability to be in front of current and prospective supporters, which hit us hard,” Small said. “For Music Preserves to be awarded this grant, vetted by organizations that are leaders in the nonprofit arena, provides a great opportunity to further introduce ourselves to the Orange County philanthropic community and hopefully encourage more support for the work that we do.”

President of the Dana Point Symphony Scott Schoeffel says that the arts are especially important during trying times.

“(Symphonic music) has stood the test of time. It has the greatest composers. You get every instrument that has also stood the test of time,” Schoeffel said. “People are overwhelmed by the majesty and power of it when they have the opportunity to sit in front of it.”

Schoeffel added that, unfortunately, many people do not get to enjoy that majesty and power since orchestras are losing support.

“Our symphony has tried to change that. Now we’re just so sorry our live performances are on pause since you can’t gather in large numbers,” Schoeffel said. “Then just when you think everybody’s abandoned you, these great organizations come forward and they say, ‘Gosh, no, we have to keep this going.’ “

Schoeffel acknowledged how challenging the pandemic has been, especially on musicians.

“I know what the normal musician’s life is like right now with limited opportunities to play,” Schoeffel said. “We’re so grateful for this grant and I know the community and our patrons are going to be really, really grateful as well.”

The grant will support the symphony’s work to develop virtual programs in the near future as well as possibly record the orchestra in a COVID-19-compliant manner and location that can then be distributed to patrons.

To learn more about the work of Music Preserves Foundation click here and to learn more about the Dana Point Symphony click here.

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