Toledo Symphony Receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant to Support North Star Festival Programming

Published Tuesday, February 13, 2018 9:00 am

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced on Wednesday, February 7 that the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) is one of thirty-nine orchestras nationwide to receive a NEA Art Works grant. The TSO will receive a $10,000 grant to support its North Star Festival with community outreach events and concerts from February-April 2018.

“We are proud to work again with the National Endowment for the Arts, as this is the Toledo Symphony’s first NEA grant in many years. To receive NEA funding for such a historic project is not only a great honor but also an endorsement of what the TSO is doing in our community,” said Zak Vassar, President and CEO of the Toledo Symphony.

The TSO, along with thirty-eight other major orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, and Los Angeles Philharmonic, were awarded Art Works, Part 1 orchestra grants. These grants support the creation of art, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with live orchestral experiences. For more information on grant amounts and project descriptions, please visit the NEA website at

The North Star Festival will highlight Toledo’s local connection to the Underground Railroad, a 19th century network that helped slaves escape to freedom, and celebrates the musical contribution of Black Americans throughout history. This festival will be presented in a series of concerts and collaborations, exploring music by Black American composers and about Black American history—from songs brought over to America during times of slavery to more contemporary music that pays tribute to the brave men and women of the Civil Rights Movement.

 “In building this festival, we worked carefully with our friends at Lathrop House and the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library,” said Vassar. “Together, we have created a festival that will literally take orchestra members into the community to celebrate wonderful music. The NEA makes this possible, and we are grateful for and proud of this support.”

For more information, please contact Felecia Kanney, Director of Marketing for the Toledo Symphony at

The Toledo Symphony is a community-supported organization of professional musicians and teachers who deliver quality performance and music education for all. 

Formed in 1943 as The Friends of Music and incorporated in 1951 as the Toledo Orchestra Association, Inc., the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has grown from a core group of twenty-two part-time musicians to a regional orchestra that employs sixty-five professional musicians who consider the Toledo Symphony their primary employer, as well as numerous extra players annually as repertoire demands.  

The Toledo Symphony reaches more than 260,000 individuals annually through performances and education programs. The series concerts (Classics, Pops, Chamber, Mozart & More, and Family Series) are the critical underpinning of the orchestra’s artistic mission and regularly draw people from 135 postal zip codes. Additionally, Music Under the Stars, a free summer band concert series, is held annually at the Toledo Zoo. Education programs, student performances, and community concerts are held in schools, neighborhood churches, performing arts centers, and community facilities throughout the region; many are offered at no charge or provided at a reduced fee to help expand participation. 

The Toledo Symphony Orchestra has events all year round. View our upcoming performance schedule now.

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