“One of the reasons we have violence in the schools is we’ve taken music out of the schools.”

If there were ever a time to be cutting back on arts and culture in this country, now is just about the worst time to consider it. Recently my wife and I watched Bowling for Columbine, the Michael Moore documentary about high school gun violence, and not so much as a day later the tragic events of the Perry Hall high school shooting unfolded. Add to that, an 8/25/2012 post from Norm Lebrecht highlighting the quote from jazz musician Byard Lancaster used as today’s headline and you have the makings for some profound realization.

“One of the reasons we have violence in the schools is we’ve taken music out of the schools.” – Byard Lancaster

It is important to keep these sorts of dynamic variables in mind when girding up the strength to make funding for arts education materialize and building revenue streams capable of improving and sustaining accessibility to live performing arts events.

Having lived in the Baltimore area for 17 years, my heart goes out to my friends and colleagues who work in the public school music and arts program as well as the multitude of arts managers and artists who make that area their home.

I hope everyone will take some time to think about how the arts make your community a better place to live and consider how best you can contribute to building a stronger cultural environment.

Sometimes, the answer will be doing more and other times it will require greater sacrifice but the important thing to remember is there is always a solution.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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6 thoughts on ““One of the reasons we have violence in the schools is we’ve taken music out of the schools.””

  1. Drew, have you ever been to an Albany Park Theater Project play? I’ve never been so moved by an arts organization, or even just a play. Yes, we all know El sistema, but sometimes we don’t need to look so far away for great examples.

    Now of course, APTP is an after-school program… the issue still remains about the arts IN the schools…

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