Anita Burroughs-Price boarded an airplane to Vancouver, Canada, with excited anticipation in 2011.
The principal harpist for the North Carolina Symphony would join more than 700 distinguished musicians on a grant-sponsored trip to the World Harp Congress—an international conference that occurs every three years.
“For me, the best part was being exposed to a lot of new musical repertoire. I don’t often get to hear harpists from places like Japan, Russia and New Zealand,” she said. “The exposure to new instruments was amazing and it was great bringing that fresh musical technique back to our community.”
The experience was made possible through the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, which supports the arts by providing grants to individual artists to support projects that will advance their career in demonstrable ways.
The nonprofit, established in 1989, helps approximately 20 artists explore their fields each year through its Regional Artist Project grants (RAPG). The grants of up to $1,500 each are made in partnership with arts councils in Franklin, Johnston, Vance and Warren counties.
“Many individual artists just need a boost to help them grow,” says Brandi Neuwirth, art coordinator for United Arts. “And when they receive that help, then the community benefits from their work. When the arts do better, everyone does better.”
A scholar of early harp music, Burroughs-Price also traveled to London with UAC’s support in 2003 to research the history, technique and repertoire of her 1810 single-action pedal harp.
“I made invaluable connections through both opportunities that helped me improve my technique as an artist,” says Burroughs-Price, who moved to North Carolina in 1986 and previously served as soloist with the Durham Symphony and South Carolina Chamber Orchestra.
Such grant-sponsored opportunities can spark surprising professional connections. During a chance encounter at the World Harp Congress in 2011, Burroughs-Price had dinner with a woman who is only five generations away from her antique harp’s original owners.
“She had no idea the harp was in her family history, and we’ve kept in touch ever since,” said Burroughs-Price, who bought the historic instrument while studying at London’s Royal College of Music in the 1980s.