Brooks Center director receives National Endowment for the Arts grant

From Clemson University — The Newstand

Article by Kathy Elrick

Mickey HarderLillian “Mickey” Utsey Harder has been awarded an Arts Engagement in American Communities grant of $10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This grant will be matched by an equal amount of $10,000 from private donors for a total of $20,000.

Harder is director of the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts and professor of music. She is using the funds to support the Utsey Chamber Music Series at the Brooks Center — a series well known for three decades of community outreach through free chamber music concerts.

Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, said, “I’m pleased to be able to share the news of this award to Lillian Harder for the Utsey Chamber Music Series. In each community, the arts have the power to create new avenues for economic health and physical vibrancy, and for people to feel a sense of pride in their locality. This grant demonstrates this power and affirms that the arts are part of our everyday lives.”

The NEA is the federal agency that supports and funds the arts, with programs and funding that supports thousands of activities in communities large and small across the country, including about 30,000 performances and 3,000 exhibitions annually.

Harder initially started the Utsey Chamber Music Series as an endowment to honor her parents, Lillian and Robert Utsey, and their love of chamber music. The two goals of the series are to bring up-and-coming musicians to Clemson and to make the concerts free to all. Now in its 30th season, the Utsey Chamber Music Series is synonymous with world-class performances, and the series and its performers are committed to making cultural programs available to people of all ages and socio-economic levels.

In collaboration with Clemson University, the Utsey Chamber Music Series was awarded the prestigious Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award from the South Carolina Arts Commission in 2007. It was Harder’s second Verner award, the first coming in 2002. The Verner Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the arts for South Carolina and is the highest award given in the state for artistic achievement.

Follow the Utsey Chamber Music Series and the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts on Facebook and @BrooksCenterCU.