Monday, February 14, 2011

Midwest Young Artists: NEA Support

Yesterday morning five groups made recordings at Bennett Gordon Hall at Ravinia to submit to the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.  Allan got things started and then had to leave for a KVSO concert.  You may not know that he has another job:  Music Director of the Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra –almost 25 years!  I stayed to manage the time.  I was so impressed with how the ensembles worked together and collaborated.  What better experience to learn working together, problem solving, communication, all with a definite result and goal in mind?  After the first take, they would talk about the performance and then decide what to try to fix in the next take.  It was just so much fun and encouraging to see this process in action.  We view competitions at MYA the same way we do concerts.  The real value is the process of getting there!
  
 
After the taping sessions we had two Soirees.  We violated our own policy of trying to keep each to one hour, and we apologize.  Many ensembles played their whole repertoire hoping for another good tape to submit from a concert setting.  It was a lesson learned for our Chamber Music Coordinators.  We didn’t have accurate timings ahead of time this week.   
 
For the past two years, MYA has received funding for our Orchestra and Chamber Music Program from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  I received numerous emails recently from Arts organizations urging us to send messages to our elected officials to stop or reduce the cuts being proposed to the NEA. 

I gave this a lot of thought and actually wrote a letter on Saturday morning.  Unfortunately, the letter disappeared after my effort before I clicked to send it.  However, the gist of it was that a lot of people think of the NEA as funding a few controversial artists. This is a link to organizations in Illinois supported by the NEA a total of 57 grants for $2,547,100.  A lot of the organizations funded work with youth.  Loss of this funding, particularly on small to mid-sized organizations like MYA, will have an impact.  Arts organizations do affect the economy.  At the end of January, our accountant gave us 78 W-2s for a 2010 payroll of $592,810.

I think that as our elected officials look at the budgetary problems they have to solve, they should look at investments for the future.   Spending and cutting decisions should all run through this lens.  What is the impact of decisions long term on our communities, the country and the world?  The other belief I have always had is that generally those closest to situation are in the best position to make decisions and utilize resources once direction and policies have been decided.

There is a lot more I could write here, but what do you think about funding for the NEA? 

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