Recently by Bau Graves
We're in a dark time that is poised to have serious repercussions for many of the nonprofits that we count upon to deliver arts education programs. But the demand for vibrant, relevant art experiences at all levels far outstrips the supply. I am humbled by the fact that, in the midst of economic chaos, demand for our programs is stronger than ever. Old Town School of Folk Music will register more than 19,000 students this year, and if anything, enrollment is building as the recession deepens. In times of trouble, people value the experience of making music together. I can't help but feeling optimistic knowing that a couple of our alumni -- Malia and Sasha Obama -- will be walking in the corridors of power.
"Diversity" appears in a lot of our postings here, but if we are not prepared to address the actual sources of diverse cultural activity, can this commitment be taken seriously? This is not a matter of high art vs the rest. Here in the upper Midwest polka is huge, and a lot of Mexican Chicagoans listen to banda all day (at least they manage to support multiple commercial radio stations) -- but that does nothing to diminish the relevance or importance of Mozart. We just need to expand our field of vision. There's a whole forest out there. Why are so many of our resources and this discussion limited to so few trees?
Indeed, the current public arts infrastructure, despite endless rhetoric about "diversity," remains overwhelmingly devoted to those dead European males that John Rockwell mentions. Last year, the NEA's expenditures in support of traditional, ethnic culture totaled 7/10th of 1% of the agency's budget. Take a look at the course catalog of any music conservatory -- even at those places with the most esteemed ethnomusicology programs, the European canon (which accounts for about 5% of the world's musical output) outnumbers the rest of the world by several orders of magnitude. This is akin to offering a science curriculum that ends with Copernicus.
Changing this cultural myopia, in education and in the public arts arena, would require a commitment that we have never seen from educators, governments or from philanthropists. But the alternative is more of the long cultural gray-out that Alan Lomax predicted back in 1977 and which provides a stark context for our discussion today.
Sam Hope, executive director, The National Office for Arts Accreditation (NOAA);
Jack Lew, Global University Relations Manager for Art Talent at EA;
Laura Zakaras, RAND;
James Cuno, Director, Art Institute of Chicago;
Richard Kessler, Executive Director, Center for Arts Education;
Eric Booth, Actor;
Bau Graves, Executive director, Old Town School of Folk Music;
Kiff Gallagher, Founder & CEO of the Music National Service Initiative and MusicianCorps
Bennett Reimer, Founder of the Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience, author of A Philosophy of Music Education;
Edward Pauly, the director of research and evaluation at The Wallace Foundation;
Moy Eng, Program Director of the Performing Arts Program at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation;
John Rockwell, critic;
Susan Sclafani, Managing Director, Chartwell Education Group;
Jane Remer, Author, Educator, Researcher
Michael Hinojosa, General Superintendent, Dallas Independent School District
Peter Sellars, director
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