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Lincoln Theatre “Song of the Mountains” Reorganization

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Song of the MountainsMarion, VA -- The Lincoln Theatre Board of Directors voted at its most recent meeting to makes changes to the structure of its nationally-syndicated public television concert series Song of the Mountains®. The program will be put on a short hiatus while the theatre completes a rebranding process by developing more innovative programming, creating new partnerships and securing additional financial support, as it enters its second decade on the air.

“Millions of people across America are familiar with the Song of the Mountains program,” said Lincoln Theatre Board of Directors President Dr. T. Edward Damer, “however, what very few people know is that The Lincoln Theatre, a small non-profit organization, holds all financial responsibility for the program.” Song of the Mountains does not receive funding from PBS and presenting station UNCTV provides for less than five percent of the annual cost for the production. Damer added that “while Song of the Mountains supporters, including sponsors, performers, and audiences, have been very generous over the years, the Lincoln Theatre has found it increasingly more difficult to bear the financial burden of producing the show.”

Although the Lincoln receives other financial support from the Town of Marion, the Bank of Marion, the Ellis Family Foundation, and others, these contributions along with ticket sales for Song of the Mountains concerts fall short of paying for the show’s production.

At its most recent meeting, the Lincoln Theatre Board of Directors voted to suspend production of the Song of the Mountains for a period of approximately six months while still presenting its upcoming June and August concert tapings. “We have existing commitments to our performers, sponsors, and ticket holders for these programs and the Board feels it is important that those shows go ahead as planned,” said Lincoln Theatre Executive Director Kristin Untiedt-Barnett. The organization is coordinating with performers to arrange for the concerts scheduled in September through December 2015.

To carry out the task of re-branding, an Ad Hoc Reorganization Committee has been appointed by Lincoln Board President Dr. Damer. This committee, under the leadership of Executive Director Untiedt-Barnett, will oversee the reorganization and eventual return of Song of the Mountains concert tapings. The committee will work with Horse Archer Productions (which films and edits the program), to ensure that unedited shows which have already been filmed will be edited and made available for public television distribution.

As part of the reorganization process, Song of the Mountains host and program coordinator Tim White has parted company with the organization. White has served as host for the Song of the Mountains program since its inception in 2005. Speaking for The Lincoln Board, Executive Director Kristin Untiedt-Barnett stated, “We have a great deal of respect for the talent and energy that Tim has put into Song of the Mountains over the past 10 years. He is a man of many talents and we expect that he will continue to be a leader in our region’s music and entertainment industry.” White is coordinating a Song of the Mountains Cruise to be held in February 2016, and the event is moving forward as scheduled.

Through the reorganization of the program, The Lincoln Theatre Board of Directors is committed to strengthening existing partnerships, pursuing new opportunities, and securing a stronger position for Song of the Mountains as a program representing the music and cultural heritage of the Appalachian region. “The music industry has changed significantly in the past 10 years,” stated Untiedt-Barnett, “and the Board believes that the reorganization plan will benefit the future of the program, and the future of the organization as a whole.” A completed plan for the return of the program is expected as early as November 2015.

Representatives of the Town of Marion place a great deal of importance on the economic impact that Song of the Mountains has on the Town. Marion Mayor David Helms and other Town Council members have credited it with “putting Marion on the map.”

Song of the Mountains originates from the Lincoln Theatre and is aired on over 120 public television stations across the country to a potential audience of over 80 million. The Lincoln Theatre, a non-profit organization, owns the Song of the Mountains program, which has featured such performers as Doc Watson, Dr. Ralph Stanley, J.D. Crowe, and Doyle Lawson during its ten years of production. Genres have included bluegrass, old time, Americana, and Celtic music.

See the earlier Cybergrass article regarding Tim White and Song of the Mountains.

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