Proposals to cut funding for the arts pop up in seemingly every federal budget discussion. A recent proposal suggested eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities completely.
Much to the relief of many, the House appropriations committee last week approved a bill to provide $145 million for each endowment in the 2018 budget. It's a slight reduction ($5 million each) but manageable, given the proposed alternative.
Last year, the Kronos Quartet offered a solution in terms of keeping arts accessible — give music away.
Through a project called Fifty for the Future, the Kronos Quartet is raising $1.5 million to commission 50 new pieces of music. It is elegant in its simplicity.
Here's how Tom Vitale described the initiative on NPR's Deceptive Cadence blog:
The Kronos Quartet "will premiere each piece, and then hold workshops with the composer and young musicians. Then the score will be posted on the Kronos website, free for anyone to download, along with performance and instructional videos."
The Kronos Quartet website offers more detail:
"Joining [Kronos Performing Arts Association] as Lead Partner for Kronos’ Fifty for the Future project is Carnegie Hall. In conjunction with the launch of its 125th Anniversary celebration in 2015/2016, Carnegie Hall will present Kronos concerts, produce community performances, and host educational workshops featuring this new repertoire during the five years of the project."
Irish composer and violist Garth Knox wrote Satellites as part of the project. Knox said while he was paid to write the work, he then gave up the rights to the piece to make it available to anyone who wants it.
Below, Knox plays one of his compositions, Viola Spaces — a series of eight viola pieces, each of which explores one special bowing technique. Here he plays No. 8, which is called "Up, Down, Sideways, Round" because the bow is moved into areas of the viola not normally used.
Where does the project stand a year later? You can find updates, along with some of the music being made available and performances, on the quartet's site.
So, how can you do your part for music education?
I'm glad you asked!
WOSU Public Media’s Classical 101 is connecting with the Columbus community in a unique way this summer. We are collecting musical instruments to ensure students in Columbus schools can experience the personal and academic benefits that music education affords.
Replay! is Classical 101’s instrument drive, connecting aspiring young musicians with instruments. The drive runs July 31 through Aug. 4.
At Classical 101, making music available on air, online and on mobile devices is our main goal. But when the idea of an instrument drive was proposed, it was exciting to think that we could not only help youngsters hear music, but actually make it, as well.
I invite you to scour your closets, attics and basements for an instrument that is sitting idle. The first step in giving that instrument — and a student in Columbus — a new life is up to you.