Madison WI – National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $20,000 to the Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) for its HeartStringsSM program to bring live music to healthcare and assisted living facilities and enhance participants’ quality of life through participatory music therapy-informed sessions led by a professional string quartet. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.
“The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as the Madison Symphony Orchestra in Madison, WI, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”
“Significant national funding is powerfully affirming the pioneering work of this program over the last 12 years,” said MSO Executive Director Rick Mackie. “The National Endowment for the Arts has nurtured our success from nearly the beginning, and we have used these resources for the health and enrichment of those under the care of our many partner organizations.”
HeartStringsSM is the MSO’s innovative program designed to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of children and adults with disabilities, long-term illnesses and assisted living needs. To bring live music to these individuals in structured and meaningful ways, the Rhapsodie Quartet presents monthly, music therapy-informed sessions from September through May at partner locations that embrace these populations, reaching approximately 3,200 individuals annually. Through ongoing relationships with special education and rehabilitation programs at south-central Wisconsin state institutions, retirement communities, and health care facilities, HeartStrings serves a diverse population of varying needs and ages. The program enhances participants’ quality of life by using musical experiences as dynamic forces of change in specific communication behaviors and existing physical and cognitive conditions. The program brings meaningful arts experiences directly to participants in a comfortable and familiar setting, providing a valuable resource for facilities that serve these participants and an opportunity for caregivers to mutually interact in uplifting, enjoyable and engaging experiences with their clients. HeartStrings is grounded in the believe that music touches people on a fundamental level regardless of age or level of functioning.
The Madison Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 93rd season in 2018–2019 and its 25th season under the leadership of Music Director John DeMain. The MSO has grown to be one of America’s leading regional orchestras, providing Madison and south-central Wisconsin with cultural and educational opportunities to interact with great masterworks and top-tier guest artists from around the world. Find more information at