FC: The Gaston County Museum of Art and History
1: The Exhibit The History of Dallas and the Carolina Textile Mills are permanent exhibits at the Gaston County Museum. Located in Dallas NC, these exhibits are intertwined and tell the story of the growth and development of Dallas in the larger context of the history of Gaston County and the Piedmont Region.
2: The Program “Blues out Back”
3: The Aim To provide a family friendly series of musical and storytelling programs that represent the culture and history of the region including the large dependence on the Textile Mills for economic growth.
5: The Result The “Blues out Back” program began in 1997 and is presented every summer from May thru September, every Friday Evening. The performers are all from the Piedmont Region and each have a story to tell through their professional storytelling or their music. The music and stories center around the history of their families, many who grew up in the Mills and some who helped shape the Dallas community.
6: The Audience Listed as a family, children and adult program and geared toward all ages.
7: The Setting Each Friday Evening the Grassy Knoll behind the Historic Daniel Stowe Carriage House located on the Historic Dallas Square is covered with lawn chairs and blankets. | The Setting Each Friday Evening the Grassy Knoll behind the Historic Daniel Stowe Carriage House located on the Historic Dallas Square is covered with lawn chairs and blankets.
8: The families, teens, seniors, and museum staff get settled in anticipation of the evening’s entertainment. Some have been attending for 13 years and most have a connection to the history of the area via school and individual tours of the exhibits.
9: Program Leaders 13 years ago, Director of Educational Programming Jeff Pruett, developed the idea for the "Blues out Back" program with an objective of creating a connection to the history of the Gaston region through storytelling and music. Working with him to organize and market the program are his educational assistants, Lynn Duncan and Kelly Mason.
10: The Instructors Each year the Blues out Back Program invites oral historians or professional storytellers to open the program. This year David Holt and Josh Goforth, both from the area and famous in their own right will open the program with a Piedmont Musical History series. Various performers will lead the series each Friday.
12: Evaluation I spoke to Mr. Pruett who informed me the first year was such a success and that each year the numbers grew significantly. No formal evaluation measure was used due to the instant success it brought to museum recognition, growth in membership, donations, and corporate sponsorships
14: Marketing Each Month the Gaston County Museum sends out via snail mail and on their website news about upcoming exhibits and programs. The Blues out Back program is highlighted each month with who will be performing. They also belong to Facebook and have a pretty good following for the size of their museum.
15: Summary I think the staff has done a great job trying to bring a program that is connected to area history and reflective of the relationship many people in the area have to the Mills and Gaston County history. They have garnered more members and donations through this event which continues to grow in popularity. Blues out Back is innovative, interactive and continues to embrace the visitor experience.