Being a retired musician that studied and grew as a performer through the public school system and then on through college, I have first-hand knowledge of how difficult and costly it is to operate a music program. Students and "band boosters" across the nation do a fantastic job of raising money to keep music alive in classrooms, but it's a constant struggle. Funding for the arts has always been considered by most schools to be a "luxury" that only happens after sciences and athletics are paid for. Selling candy bars and candles, bake sales and car washes only helps so much.
When I moved to Nashville, "Music City USA", years ago, I was somewhat surprised to find that the same situation existed in the public schools. The city itself is identified, to a great extent, by the music industry that calls it home, yet funding for music programs in the city's public schools is lacking.
Each year in Nashville, hundreds of Country artists perform at Country Music Association's CMA Music Festival (previously known as "Fan Fair") for free, and to show its appreciation for their dedication and time, CMA donates half the net proceeds from the event to benefit music education programs on behalf of the artists and celebrities involved as part of a program called Keep the Music Playing. Last week, CMA Foundation announced that it will be donating $1.4 million to benefit music education programs for 78,000 public school students in Nashville!
Through the Keep the Music Playing campaign, CMA hopes to have a larger impact on the future of the entire music community. When the program began, it had been many years since instruments had been purchased for the city's public schools and children were turned away from music programs because they didn't have enough instruments, etc., and no money to buy them.
Donations like this can prevent arts programs from folding and allow students to receive a well-rounded public school education by exposing them to opportunities that might otherwise never present themselves to talented young minds. I'm proud to live in a community that gives importance to the arts in its public schools and to the artists that share their time and talents to nuture future generations.
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