Fayetteville State University Secures Arts Council Funding

Grants Will Support FSU’s Fine Arts Series and International Music Festival
Date: July 25, 2023

Amanda Virelles, D.M.A., and Kristina Henckel, D.M.A., both of whom teach piano at FSU, comprise the award-winning 4HANDS Piano Duo

Pictured Above: Amanda Virelles, D.M.A. (left), and Kristina Henckel, D.M.A. (right), both of whom teach piano at FSU, comprise the award-winning 4HANDS Piano Duo

Fayetteville, N.C. (July 25, 2023) — Fayetteville State University (FSU) has received two project support grants from the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County.

Each grant advances a different initiative of the Department of Performing and Fine Arts in the University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS). One provides $8,000 to underwrite and develop the second FSU International Music Festival (IMF) (April 4-7, 2024).

The other grant allocates $6,000 to support events such as performances, exhibitions, and masterclasses in the FSU Fine Arts Series, which will take place on the FSU campus from September 2023 until May 2024.

“We are extremely grateful to the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County for their continued support of initiatives in FSU’s Department of Performing and Fine Arts,” said Marcus Cox, Ph.D., CHSS dean. “They often provide the last and most critical piece of funding for arts programming on the FSU campus, enabling us to offer events for the education of our students and the enjoyment of the general public.”

A little Arts Council 101: Project Support Grants aim to increase the cultural arts programming of various entities in Cumberland County, including FSU. Last month, the council announced it had awarded $184,200 in Project Support Grants for 23 new and continuing initiatives of 17 organizations. It had received applications to support 30 projects from 18 organizations, with requests totaling $295,000.

“This year’s grant cycle was particularly competitive with many impactful projects,” Robert Pinson, the council’s president and CEO, said in a council release announcing the grants. “The Arts Council is very proud of the work these institutions are doing to better our community through these programs.”


The 2023-2024 FSU Fine Arts Series will use its arts council grant to underwrite its marketing, community outreach, and guest artists’ fees as well as aspects of productions such as props, scenery, and costumes.

Jeremy Fiebig, a professor of theatre at FSU, said that two FSU alumni will serve as guest artists during the upcoming series: Deon Releford-Lee ’14 and Alease Timbers ’15.

Deon Releford-LeeReleford-Lee has become a versatile performer on Broadway (Tina-The Tina Turner Musical) and elsewhere. At FSU, he will lead audition seminars and an acting/script analysis workshop, both for students. Dates for these events will be announced when confirmed, Fiebig said.

Timbers will direct a student production of Ruined (2008), Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play (Nov. 16-18). Ruined depicts the lives of women holed up in a brothel located in the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo.

The students cast for Ruined will benefit from Timbers’ considerable professional experience ranging from a directing gig at FSU in 2019 to her current role as the education program specialist for the Raleigh (N.C.) Little Theatre.

Alease TimbersThe complete 2023-2024 series should be finalized by September. Fiebig said that patrons can expect to take in theater, music, and dance performances at FSU’s Butler Theater and Seabrook Auditorium and other locations throughout the campus and community.

Exhibitions of visual art will be on display at the Rosenthal Gallery. Workshops and masterclasses will benefit everyone from student musicians to area art educators wishing to learn new skills they can use in their classrooms.


The FSU International Music Festival (IMF) will use its grant to underwrite the festival’s guest artists’ fees. FSU faculty performing in the festival will donate their artist fees.

The IMF launched this past March with four days of concerts in Fayetteville venues on and off the FSU campus. FSU players or guest artists from eight countries were featured, and throughout the festival, their programs included stylistically eclectic chamber music from their countries of origin, including pieces by composers deserving of greater recognition.

A good definition of chamber music can be found in the “Our Mission” section of the Chamber Music America (CMA) website, an advocacy organization. Like CMA, IMF embraces the idea that chamber music includes not only string quartets and the like by Beethoven and other classical composers but also jazz and folk music.

Amanda Virelles D.M.A., who teaches piano at FSU, is the IMF’s founding artistic director. She’s also an associate professor of music at FSU and the interim chair of its Department of Performing and Fine Arts.

Virelles conceived of the festival’s international focus to build on her own international experiences: She studied piano in her native Cuba before earning advanced degrees in Russia and the United States.

Thanks to the arts council funding, Virelles is now organizing the second festival, which promises to be even more international than the first, with musicians from at least 15 countries expected to participate.

The performers for the second IMF will be announced by December. However, as they did during the inaugural festival this past March, Virelles said that she and Kristina Henckel, D.M.A., a Czech-born pianist who also teaches piano at FSU, may team up again as the award-winning 4HANDS Piano Duo.

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