Showcasing the Arts

YouTube video - Chester and Ann Grundy
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2016 Governor's Awards in the Arts:
Milner Award






Chester Grundy For more than 45 years, Chester and Ann Grundy have made a unique and indelible impact on the cultural landscape of central Kentucky as arts activists, educators and presenters. Their contributions have distinguished them as a duo whose name is synonymous with the highest representations of African-American artistry, culture and history. In commenting on their work, Dr. Kerby Neill of Lexington stated, “Few communities have been graced with a couple who so masterfully celebrates the art, intellect and triumphs of the African-American community while continuing to address the challenges of prejudice reduction and cross-cultural understanding.”

Chester Grundy is the founder and first director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center at the University of Kentucky, which opened in 1987. Since its establishment, the King Cultural Center has sponsored several programs consisting of lectures, concerts, dance, theater, film programming, workshops, exhibits, study/travel projects and artist residencies. Its record of programming is stellar, having presented such high-profile luminaries as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Maya Angelou, Alex Haley, Ruby Dee, Muhammad Ali, Coretta Scott King, The Alvin Ailey Dance Repertory Company, The Boys Choir of Harlem, The National Dance Theater of Trinidad & Tobago, Spike Lee and many more.

Chester was the co-sponsor and provided the artistic vision for UK’s highly renowned Spotlight Jazz Series which presented an annual calendar of high caliber jazz artistry during its 33-year history, making it the longest running collegiate jazz series in the country. In collaboration with the UK Student Activities Board, he helped produce hundreds of performances and workshops by top-tier jazz artists including The Duke Ellington Orchestra, Sonny Rollins, Wynton Marsalis, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck.

Msiba Ann GrundyTogether, the Grundys, in the late 1980s, provided the vision, expertise and leadership for the establishment of Lexington’s Roots & Heritage Festival, which recently celebrated its 28th anniversary. It has been recognized by the Kentucky Cabinet of Tourism, Arts and Heritage as one of the Commonwealth’s Top Ten Festivals and was the winner of the Governor’s Award for the Arts in the Community Arts category.

Ann and Chester have also served as principal writers, researchers and program coordinators for Lexington’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration since its inception nearly 44 years ago. The annual celebration was praised by the late American film and theater icon Ossie Davis as “one of the finest tributes to Dr. King that he had ever experienced.” Over the years, Lexington’s MLK Holiday Celebration has evolved to become one of the most anticipated moments in the annual cultural calendar of central Kentucky.

Chester and Ann have devoted more than 30 years to purposely empowering and developing historical awareness among generations of Lexington’s disadvantaged youth through a powerful educational experience they call the NIA Study/Travel Project. This project provides students, ages 5-18, with opportunities to research African-American history and culture, and then travel to significant historic sites to continue their study and research. An estimated 2,000 students have studied and traveled to nine states and Canada through the auspices of the NIA Project.

Chester is a native of Louisville and received his bachelor of arts and master of science degrees from UK. Ann is a native of Birmingham, Ala. and an alumnus of Berea College.





Page last updated: October 24, 2016
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