Founded in 1937 by a group of forward-thinking Great Bend residents, the Golden Belt Community Concert Association is proud of its rich heritage of providing quality, diverse, professional entertainment to the residents of Barton County, and the surrounding area. We are Bringing Music to Life in Barton County. Our vision is to enrich the cultural awareness and appreciation of the performing arts for everyone in the communities served.
During the early 1900s, the cultural atmosphere of the community was influenced by war-time patriotism, the roaring twenties, and the Great Depression, as well as a plan by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to revitalize the nation and bring back those lost "happy days," the New Deal. In 1938, Great Bend was in the midst of an oil boom, the economy was thriving and a diverse population was being established. These attitudes of a booming economy and a unique population base may have influenced the citizens of Great Bend to organize an association that would bring professional musicians to the community, thus enhancing the community's cultural feelings. The organization to bring about this concept would be the Columbia Artist Bureau, New York City, an organization that was formed in 1927 by seven leading impresarios with ties to several stars. Their plan was to export musical culture to all parts of the country. In 1930, the Columbia Broadcasting System took over the new entity, named the Community Concerts Corporation.
The Great Bend Community Concert Association, as it was then known, was organized in 1937 with Dr. M. F. Russell's wife, Ethel, as president and eleven other charter board members. The first concert was held in February 1939, when the Mozart Boys' Choir of Vienna performed in the Great Bend High School Auditorium. The other concert that year was Metropolitan Opera soprano, Josephine Antoine. The association continued until the end of the 1941-1942 season. The concert association stopped performances during World War II and began offering cultural presentations again in the fall of 1947. Following World War II, the association had a membership of 773 adults and 145 student memberships.
The structure of the community concert association has gone through only a few changes throughout its history. The New York Association of Community Concerts founded the practice of subscription concerts so as to guarantee a substantial amount of money to provide professional quality entertainers. Several years ago, family memberships were established to bring in additional members at an economical price. The local name has changed to Golden Belt Community Concert Association and reciprocal agreements are still honored. In 1986, the patron program was inaugurated to bring in additional income. Columbia Artists no longer contracts with Community Concerts organizations. The Great Bend association now contracts with Live On Stage, Inc., a Nashville , Tennessee , based organization for its concert selections and full range of services. The Great Bend concerts are still given in the renovated municipal auditorium with a board of directors responsible for concert selection and administration.
The Golden Belt Community Concert Association celebrated its 75th season in 2012-2013. Over the years, the Golden Belt Community Concert Association has afforded the citizens of Barton County and the surrounding area the ability to see live, high-class musicians at a price affordable to everyone. Some of those artists include the Robert Shaw Chorale, the Boston Pops, and William Warfield. Mantovani, Paul Lavalle and the Band of America, Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, Duke Ellington and Arthur Fiedler have also graced the Great Bend Municipal Auditorium stage. A few artists have appeared in Great Bend multiple times, including Ferrente and Teicher, Peter Nero, Mr. Jack Daniel's Original Silver Cornet Band and Dorothy Warenskjold.