Using Documentary Filmmaking To Help Reconfirm Classical Music’s Relevance

The 11/3/2018 edition of The Baltimore Sun published an article by Tim Smith about a new documentary titled R.A.W. – From Destitute to Doctorate by Baltimore filmmakers Darren Durlach and David Larson.

It’s a great overview article that introduces the documentary about tubist Richard White, who went from being homeless, eating from trash cans, and abandoned on the streets of Baltimore to earning a position as an orchestral tuba player, one of the most competitive positions in any ensemble. Moreover, White is also the first African American in the world to receive a PhD in Tuba.

The documentary received a $2,000 2018 Mountainfilm Commitment Grant and is gathering additional funding via an Indiegogo campaign.

At the time this article was published, the campaign has three days left and was just over 50 percent of its flexible goal. The Indiegogo page provides the following overview:

Dr. Richard A. White (R.A.W.) experienced homelessness as a child in Baltimore and became the first African American to receive a Doctorate of Music in Tuba. He’s a professor and also performs in the New Mexico Philharmonic. His remarkable journey shows what happens when grit collides with educators who refuse to give up. Now he’s on a mission to help youth see that anything is possible with a little imagination, a message to inspire kids in Baltimore (and everywhere). #rawsome

You can learn more about the project and watch the promotional trailer at the campaign page. And of course, you can also become a backer.

I exchanged a few messages with Richard about the project and I think he sums everything up nicely when he said “this is a story that needs to be heard and seen by every kid in America.”

Given that the field of classical music as a whole can always benefit from meaningful efforts to reconfirm its relevance, I am very happy to both support the project and encourage others to do the same.

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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