The Arkansas Federation of Music Clubs (AFMC) was organized in 1915 by Mrs. Elizabeth Foster. At that time, Foster was an active member of the Little Rock Musical Coterie and a charter member of the National Federation of Musical Clubs (NFMC), which organized in 1898. Under Foster’s leadership, the AFMC, in cooperation with the U.S. Army, staged many musical programs using local and Armed Forces personnel for the World War I soldiers stationed in this area.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the AFMC remained a vital component of musical entertainment for Arkansas citizens. Even though the organization emphasized the use of native talent, the AFMC brought nationally renowned musicians and singers into the state, such as the famous tenor, John McCormack, in 1928. They welcomed the “New Deal” years with a special banquet honoring Arkansas Senator Joe T. Robinson, and provided hope through the Great Depression years with their musical programs.
In addition, the AFMC spawned the American Federation of Junior Musical Clubs (AFJMC) during the 1930s. Consisting of musically inclined elementary and high school students, the AFJMC provided its members an opportunity to showcase their talents by presenting original composition competitions and other musical programs.
During the war years of the early 1940s, the senior Federation devoted much attention to the Army camps and hospitals in the state. Later in the decade, AFMC became a major sponsor of the Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony in Eureka Springs, a setting where varied artists have provided instruction and performance experience to students in music and stage for over fifty years.
Throughout the latter part of the twentieth century, the AFMC actively encouraged young Arkansas musicians with “Composers from Arkansas” competitions, Young Artists Awards, and numerous scholarships. The Federation continued to be a major supporter of the Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony. The AFMC had a national impact by financially supporting the building of the Kennedy Arts Center in Washington, DC; the Federation later presented a major Bicentennial program there featuring young Arkansas musical talent and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.
Today, the Arkansas Federation of Music Clubs is made up of five districts and 17 senior clubs with over 500 senior members. In addition, Arkansas has 100 junior clubs with approximately 2,000 junior members.