PORTSMOUTH — Robert and Julia Black founded The Boneyfiddle Project eight years ago in hopes to boost the historic downtown area of Portsmouth economically through the arts.
So when it was announced that The Boneyfiddle Project was a recipient of The Governor’s Award, Robert Black related its’ importance to not only their organization, but the city.
“This Governor’s Award is a big deal and not just for us, but it’s a big deal for the city of Portsmouth,” said Robert Black. “It really is a combination of what we have been doing for the past eight years of work to get to this point.”
The Boneyfiddle Project was nominated by Theresa Edwards for the Community Development and Participation Award.
“Not only is there a nomination process, but there’s got to be four letters supporting the nomination and those are from people familiar with what we do,” said Black.
The Boneyfiddle Project was nominated in August of 2021 and received the call saying they were being honored on January 7th.
“My wife and I were in Cincinnati Airport getting ready to board a plane and I got a call from the Ohio Arts Council that we had received the award,” said Black. “We were very excited but they asked us to not tell anybody until they made their official announcement so for two weeks we had to keep it under wraps the best that we could.”
The Boneyfiddle Project was selected for the award out of nine nominees in their category.
A ceremony will be held for the award winners in Columbus in May.
“Awardees are presented with an original piece of artwork as their physical award but a lot of it is the recognition they receive statewide to bring attention to the organizations great work so that’s a big piece of what it means to win such an award,” said Justin Nigro, from the Ohio Arts Council.
Nigro said the Governor’s Awards are the only arts awards in the state where the decision is made by the Governor.
“We have something called the Governors Awards Comittee that helps to determine recommendations for those winners,” said Nigro.
Nigro said there are seven award categories and around six to ten awards are given every year.
“Once the nomination period closes, our awards committee gets together to make recommendations on awardees and final decisions are made by the Governor,” said Nigro.
The ceremony was virtual for 2021 but is scheduled to be in person for 2022.
Black said the impact the project has had on the community is very important to him.
“This is a community development and participation award and this award is through the arts which is right up our alley because we showcase all artist, not just musical artist, but graphic artist, graffiti artist, potters, painters, we’ve created a space for all of this,” said Black. “It all basically started from a song I wrote about Boneyfiddle.”
Black said they put together two CD’s and used the profit to put together the nonprofit and to continue the concert series.
“We didn’t actually start the concert series but we adopted it and my wife and I were able to put on the first full concert serious eight years ago,” said Black. “I think the positive impact of what we have been able to accomplish for this concert series is something that will manifest itself in generations to come.”
According to Black, they are going to try to get this upcoming season back to normal.
“This season we’re going to try to get back to normal after the pandemic even though it’s still going on by theming our events,” said Black. “We’ll have a hippie themed event and a Blues themed event which will be our last event of the season.”
Black said the ultimate goal is to turn the Three Bridges location into a permanent stage.
“The stage we use now is a mobile stage and we took a sixteen foot car trailor and turned it into a really nice stage,” said Black. “We basically make it available to any nonprofits and we just feel like it’s a community asset that we would like to share.”
Black said he feels one of the groups strengths is working together with other nonprofits.
“Any event that’s taken place here in Portsmouth we’ve had some hand in it whether it’s providing a stage or man power or whatever,” said Black. “Our philosophy is let’s all work together to make things better.”
Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]
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