JMArts receives $5,000 Chatham Arts Council grant to develop the foundation for future success

Siler City, NC – Not long ago, after celebrating a successful first decade serving Jordan-Matthews High School artists and the broader community, JMArts was poised to launch a campaign to recruit new volunteers that could sustain the high school arts foundation for years to come.

Percussionists Beverly Botsford, left, and Ramon Ortiz of La Fiesta Latin Jazz Sextet taught student drummers Latin jazz technique during last year’s workshop offered in partnership with Chatham Arts Council. (Photo by Chip Pate)

The future seemed bright at that moment, the beginning of the 2020 spring semester, and then everything stopped.

The COVID-19 pandemic killed that project and made life even more difficult for nonprofits worldwide. Volunteers disappeared. Many contributors did, too. Audiences evaporated; even after live performances returned with stringent safety guidelines, many people were worried about their health and no longer in the habit of attending in-person events.

All of a sudden, JMArts was scrambling to provide creative opportunities for student artists to develop their talents and keep moving forward. The future that once seemed so bright was in real jeopardy.

JMArts has just received some much-needed help in the form of a Chatham Arts Council Capacity Building Subgrant, a $5,000 award to help the nonprofit foundation strengthen itself for a sustained, promising future. The official purpose of the grant: to “review, revise and add to the structural framework of JMArts — including by-laws, board makeup, volunteer recruitment and strategic plan.”

“The bottom line is that we now have some money that will help us find and welcome the volunteers we hoped to draw into the foundation just before the pandemic hit,” said JMArts President Rose Pate. “It also will allow us to seek long-term funding and develop new tools that should strengthen JMArts for many years to come. I’m excited to have the chance to work on behind-the-scenes projects that will make JMArts function better in the long term, especially our outreach to parents and other volunteers.”

Chatham Arts Council and JMArts have worked together over many years to provide opportunity for students.

Last winter, JMArts produced a Latin jazz clinic for high school and some middle school musicians. Gregg Gelb and La Fiesta Latin Jazz Sextet taught Latin jazz technique and performed a demonstration before returning later for a free public performance. And the spring before, in one of the first in-person workshops after pandemic lockdowns, JMArts produced an after-school theater dance workshop open to all students and led by Temple Theatre Producing Artistic Director Peggy Taphorn, a Broadway actor and choreographer.

Peggy Taphorn, a Broadway performer and producing artistic director for Temple Theatre in Sanford, leads an after-school theater dance workshop for Jordan-Matthews High School students. This workshop offered in partnership with Chatham Arts Council was one of the first in-person events in 2021 after pandemic lockdowns. (Photo by Chip Pate)

And later this spring, Jordan-Matthews visual artists and students studying occupational and basic life skills will participate in “Gourd-geous Art Day: Art Meets Nature,” a day-long workshop where artists Martha Danek and Cara Bevan will show students how to incorporate natural materials into works of art.

All three events were offered with Chatham Arts Council through Grassroots Arts Grants supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The Grassroots Grants offered by the Chatham Arts Council have been key in helping bring arts opportunities and expertise to students at Jordan-Matthews,” said Pate. “We’re excited to continue our relationship with this vital community organization as we learn how better to serve students and families in Siler City.”

More information about JMArts, including a schedule of all upcoming arts events and information on membership, is available online at