HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE–A REAL DIFFERENCE
We have taken the view, in these pages, that advocating for arts by lobbying, protesting, letter-writing, etc. are, at best, ineffective and, at worst, detrimental. Artists of all stripes are labelled as a special interest group or, perhaps more accurately, a self-interest group. In other words, members of the general public and the policitians that represent them, do not see artists as contributing any more than the decorative frosting on the cake of important concerns. And, when the arts are not being decorative, they can be downright offensive.
Consider this quote from a recent article in the Boston Globe:
“That music educators and classical music advocates are looking elsewhere for inspiration may come as little surprise. In many US cities, orchestras are watching their sense of broader cultural relevance diminish, classical music is vanishing from television and the airwaves, and its audiences are shrinking and graying. For their part, music educators often feel embattled, watching funds being sliced from public budgets, as arts education is viewed as fat we can afford to trim. [emphasis added]
“These problems will require fixes from many angles, but in the end, solutions cannot come without a radical redrawing of the map of who has a stake in classical music as an art form.”
For “music educators” and “classical music” read “all forms of art.”
There is a movement, however, that shows that profound social change is possible. Yes, it will take time, and, yes, it will take effort, but the results will transform society. I’m talking about El Sistema, the remarkable Venezuelan music program that has not only changed that country but is also now being recognized around the world for its potential to effect real transformation.
And let’s remember that people who grow up with music—and we mean classical music, with its necessary discipline, history, and aesthetic refinement—have opened the door to appreciation of all the arts.
It’s happening right here in Vancouver at Saint James Music Academy. Now in its fourth year the Academy offers free music instruction and ensemble playing to youngsters from the downtown eastside. For the seventy-five or so kids learning to play violin, viola, cello, piano, classical guitar, and choir, the Academy has provided a meaningful focus in their lives. Real change can happen! This is a movement that can spread to all levels of society and throughout British Columbia and, indeed, the entire country.
Why not get involved in real change?
We invite you to do some reading about El Sistema and about the Saint James Music Academy.
Saint James Music Academy (Watch our kids in action.)
“Ultimately, it is not only those passionate about musical access and the plight of underserved youth who will be invested in the success of El Sistema-inspired programs — and their preexisting sibling efforts — in this country. It is also the embattled classical music establishment itself. Whatever the market research might be telling orchestra administrators, long-term solutions to the problem of dwindling audiences will not come from singles nights, video game takeoffs, or pop stars fronting orchestras. Gimmicks or pandering will not work. Savvy would-be listeners can sniff the desperation.” (Boston Globe)