Hamner Awarded Challenge Grant!


The Earl Hamner Theater at the Rockfish Valley Community Center in Afton has been awarded a three-year grant of $150,000 to bolster their on-going operations. “A foundation that supports the arts in central Virginia believes in the work we are doing here in Nelson County,” says Peter Coy, co-founder of the theater. “And their board voted to make a significant contribution to our future.”

The support is in the form of a challenge grant. “The theater will receive the full $50,000 from the foundation in each of the next three years if and only if we can raise $50,000 from other sources,” says Boomie Pedersen, co-artistic director of the Hamner. “They want to know that the people of Nelson support their local theater.”

The Hamner Theater, named for Nelson County’s native son, Earl Hamner, creator of the famed TV series THE WALTONS, has been producing plays and special musical events for just over a year. They have put on five plays and twelve cabaret evenings and were the hosts of the Earl Hamner Playwrights Conference, a three-week residency for playwrights from Virginia and across the country.

The theater has raised well over $100,000, money from outside the county, to build and equip their 49-seat black box performance space and to fund their first year of operation. In the first year, more than 3,000 people have attended the performances and over 12,000 hours of work have been volunteered.

“We asked for a challenge grant from the foundation,” says Coy. “We thought that, if we got the grant, we would be able to go to our members and everyone in the county and tell them how important each of them is to the future of the arts here. We want to say to everyone, if you give us a dollar, there’s a foundation that will give us a dollar to match it.”