GSO receives National Endowment for the Arts grant for Sensory Friendly Concert

Photos of children at a Sensory Friendly ConcertPhotos from a Sensory Friendly Concert (courtesy of the Georgia Symphony Orchestra)

The Marietta-based Georgia Symphony Orchestra as been approved for a $10,000 Challenge America grant for the GSO Sensory Friendly concert.

The concert will take place on Saturday March 7 at 2 p.m. at the Marietta Performing Arts Center.

The Challenge America funding category supports primarily small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations—those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.

“The arts are at the heart of our communities, connecting people through shared experiences and artistic expression,” said Arts Endowment chairman Mary Anne Carter. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support projects like the Georgia Symphony Orchestra’s Sensory Friendly Concert.”

Georgia Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Susan Stensland relates “It is a tribute to the musicians, staff, and board of the GSO that we have received this grant from the NEA.  We are excited to be contributing to the arts and culture of our region in such a positive way, particularly during this very special GSO 69th season. This is a major milestone in our development as an arts organization, and is cause for celebration.”

The press release for the event describes the Sensory Friendly Concert as follows:

The Georgia Symphony Orchestra will be presenting this fifth annual Sensory Friendly Concert designed especially for persons with sensory sensitivities and their families. An integral part of the GSO’s educational and outreach program, this concert will give a broad overview of the great expanse of classical music. Sensory sensitive listeners and family members will discover an orchestral experience that invites and welcomes those with autism into the world of classical music, featuring guest violinist John Irrera.

What does Sensory Friendly mean?

The website of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has the following description of Sensory Friendly:

Sensory-friendly performances are designed especially for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, sensory sensitivities, or other disabilities. During these programs, patrons enjoy shows together with family and friends in welcoming, inclusive, and relaxed spaces. Facilities also provide environmental modifications intended to make the experience of traveling to and viewing a performance more pleasant for everyone.

About the Georgia Symphony Orchestra

According to the GSO promotional materials:

The Georgia Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1951, and brings music to over 15,000 people annually.  Its mission is to enrich our community through accessible, high quality musical and educational experiences that instill and fulfill a lifelong appreciation for the arts. The GSO organization includes the Georgia Symphony Orchestra, GSO Chorus, GSO Jazz and the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra. For more information, visit