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Music Schools BC

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The official blog of the British Columbia Association of Community Music Schools

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Brass Fest at UBC

I am writing to invite you to the Second Annual Brassfest workshop held at the University of British Columbia on Sunday, February 5, from 9am-6pm in UBC's Old Auditorium. A full day of clinics and performances, Brassfest is designed for players of all ages and skill levels. There were over 300 participants in our inaugural year, and this year's event has been expanded to include a Brass Resource Centre, two additional hours of workshops, a double-header guest artist combo, and a mass brass grand finale performance featuring all participants!

The day of special events will feature internationally renowned artists Daniel Perantoni (tuba) and Ralph Sauer (trombone), as well as workshops by UBC faculty members Larry Knopp, Alan Matheson, Ben Kinsman, Richard Mingus, Gregory Cox, Jeremy Berkman, and Peder Maclellan; performances by Vancouver Brass Project, Little Mountain Brass Band, and the UBC Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Brass Ensembles; and a Brass Resource Centre featuring equipment and sheet music displays by our generous sponsors: The Brass Cellar, Cherry Classics, Harrison Mouthpieces, Long & McQuade, Massullo Music, Matterhorn Music, Northwest Musical Services, Tom Lee Music, Yamaha Canada Music, and more!

I hope you will encourage students, colleagues, friends, and other potentially interested participants to attend. For more information, including a full schedule, brochure, and registration information, please visit the Brassfest website.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

The Langley School Music Project

It was 1978. A first year music teacher in Langley BC was making his own way.  An old story now in 2012 , but a story that deserves a retelling. We need more innovative music educators willing to take risks.

 "I knew virtually nothing about conventional music education, and didn't know how to teach singing. Above all, I knew nothing of what children's music was supposed to be. But the kids had a grasp of what they liked: emotion, drama, and making music as a group. Whether the results were good, bad, in tune or out was no big deal -- they had élan. This was not the way music was traditionally taught. But then I never liked conventional 'children's music,' which is condescending and ignores the reality of children's lives, which can be dark and scary. These children hated 'cute.' They cherished songs that evoked loneliness and sadness." - Hans Fenger, Langley music supervisor/arranger

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

BC Gaming Grant Review

This was published today on the Gaming Grant Review website.

In July 2011, Premier Christy Clark asked Skip Triplett to conduct an independent review of the Province’s Community Gaming Grant system. More than 1,700 people participated in the review, sharing their views about how to improve the governance and funding formula of gaming grants through 14 community forums, written submissions, and five video-conferences to remote communities.

Triplett provided a final report to government on Oct. 31, 2011.
The Province announced on Jan. 11, 2012 that it would be implementing a number of changes to the allocation of community gaming grants, including:

  • Increasing gaming grant funding by $15 million in the government’s base budget, beginning this fiscal year and going forward.
  • Reinstating funding eligibility for environmental, animal welfare and adult arts and sports groups, with an immediate application intake to ensure those groups are funded this fiscal year. Interested groups need to apply online between January 16 and February 13, 2012.
  • Increasing funding to groups that have experienced grant reductions during the past three years.
  • Exploring options for implementing a multi-year funding program that will offer groups more certainty and streamline the application process.

For more information, please refer to the Province of BC's Jan. 11, 2012 news releae and backgrounder.

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Is Sustainability Sustainable?

By the principal consultants of WolfBrown with Joanna Woronkowicz
Historically, sustaining an arts organization meant generating enough earned and contributed revenue to fund current operations. With so much continued change and turmoil in the arts industry, WolfBrown set out to reconsider what sustainability means in 2011.
Why are some arts groups able to persevere – and even thrive – when they are chronically “under-capitalized” and perpetually on the brink of extinction? On the other hand, why are well-established, large institutions with sizable endowments filing for bankruptcy? What, besides strong finances, does sustainability require? Is it possible that financial security actually deters sustainability?
Reflecting back on several decades of work with funders and arts organizations, we propose a more nuanced and multi-dimensional view of sustainability – one that encompasses and transcends the current dialogue on capitalization, adaptive capacity and other elements of good management. In our view, sustainability requires a balancing act with three interdependent but sometimes competing priorities:
  • Community Relevance
  • Artistic Vibrancy
  • Capitalization
Together, these elements give organizations the ability to excel in a permanent state of flux, uncertainty and creative tension.

Is Sustainability an Illusion?
On December 16th, 2002, the San Jose Symphony – having played to audiences for over 120 years – declared bankruptcy. Its assets were sold and an institution that had once been the pride of a growing city suddenly ceased to exist. Many were shocked; how could an arts organization with such a long history and sizeable endowment fail? Throughout the late 1990s, the orchestra’s ticket sales had increased by fifty percent and government support remained stable. In the first fiscal year of the new millennium, however, ticket sales declined twelve percent. More significantly, private support for the orchestra decreased by half over a span of four years. While revenues decreased, expenses increased. At the opening of its 2002 season, the orchestra found itself in dire straits. Reluctantly, a weary board of directors, unable to reorganize and remain solvent, declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Contrast this story to that of another nonprofit arts organization, the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, which opened 30 years ago when Kermit the Frog and his creator, the late Jim Henson, cut the ceremonial ribbon. Now a $3.5 million organization, the Center’s live performances, exhibits and distance learning programs generate roughly half a million visits annually. Demand for the Center’s programs has remained stable and expenses have been carefully controlled, producing consistent operating results. In response to a major donation to the Center from Jim Henson’s family of puppets and other objects from their personal collection, a capital campaign is underway to renovate and expand the Center’s facilities, including a commitment to raise additional endowment to cover increased operating expenses. While other organizations in Atlanta have struggled to raise sufficient capital for new facilities, the Center for Puppetry Arts sees great community demand for its expansion, which will enable it to double the number of unique visitors and increase operating revenues by seventy-five percent.
Seemingly sustainable in a financial sense, the San Jose Symphony was not able to rebound after a few difficult years. With its structural deficit exposed, the orchestra’s value proposition to San Jose’s diverse community was not sufficient to generate the level of support required to reorganize, nor was it able to rescale its operations to align with demand. In contrast, the Center for Puppetry Arts – consistently operating on shoestring budgets – continues to grow in relevance to its community and to be recognized for its managerial and artistic excellence by national as well as local funders.
Read more »

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

BC Arts and Culture Week, April 2012

Coming up on its 13th year, Arts and Culture Week turns the spotlight on the vital contribution that arts and culture make in learning and in life. Music, films, media arts, dance, books, theatre and visual art are a part of daily life, and have a lasting impact. They inspire us, challenge us and broaden our horizons and help us to become informed, aware and contributing members of society.

Next year, from April 22-28, hundreds of arts councils and schools across BC will be participating in this week-long celebration of the arts. Each year, over 20,000 artists, young people, educators and community members host and participate in performances, art walks, exhibitions, workshops, and public art projects.

For more information, go to the Arts and Culture Week website

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What does a Conductor Do?

I’m standing on a podium, with an enameled wand cocked between my fingers and sweat dampening the small of my back. Ranks of young musicians eye me skeptically. They know I don’t belong here, but they’re waiting for me to pretend I do. I raise my arm in the oppressive silence and let it drop. Miraculously, Mozart’s overture to Don Giovanniexplodes in front of me, ragged but recognizable, violently thrilling. This feels like an anxiety dream, but it’s actually an attempt to answer a question that the great conductor Riccardo Muti asked on receiving an award last year: “What is it, really, I do?”
I have been wondering what, exactly, a conductor does since around 1980, when I led a JVC boom box in a phenomenal performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony in my bedroom. I was bewitched by the music—the poignant plod of the second movement, the crazed gallop of the fourth—and fascinated by the sorcery. In college, I took a conducting course, presided over a few performances of my own compositions, and led the pit orchestra for a modern-dance program. Those crumbs of experience left me in awe of the constellation of skills and talents required of a conductor—and also made me somewhat skeptical that waving a stick creates a coherent interpretation.

Read it in the New York Times

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B.C. government confirms it will not release gaming grant review before new year

In response to inquiries from the Straight , the B.C. government has confirmed that it will not be releasing the Community Gaming Grant Review within its self-imposed 60-day deadline. The review, which was lead by Skip Triplett, was to have been made public by December 31. But after being contacted by the Straight today, Jeff Rud, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development, wrote in an email that the government will not be meeting its deadline. This was confirmed in a follow-up phone call.

“The Community Gaming Grant Review will be released, in full, early in the New Year. It was initially anticipated that we would release the report and announce next steps within a 60-day period,” wrote Rud. “But these are important decisions and additional work is required in order to thoroughly review the report and determine next steps based on options provided.”

Susan Marsden, president of the B.C. Association of Charitable Gaming, expressed dismay that the government had not warned the non-profit sector of the missed deadline.

“We’re disappointed that the government didn’t see fit to issue a press release to inform charities and not-for-profits, who have been waiting very patiently but eagerly for the announcement as they plan their next year’s budgets,” said Marsden, who added that she had been fruitlessly checking the gaming review website every hour for updates. “Only after the media has inquired are they making a statement that indeed, the review and their plans are not going to be released to the public until early in the new year. Once again, there is no definitive timeline. ‘Early in the new year’ could be mean as far as March.”

Marsden urged the province to keep the not-for-profit and charitable sector in the loop. “It would be very much appreciated by the not-for-profits and charities across the province if the government could communicate with them and be precise in their communications,” she said, adding: “They had credibility up until midnight today, and now there’s real concern that they don’t intend to address this issue appropriately.”

The gaming grant review was conducted over the summer and delivered to the province October 31. It was organized by the province in response to mounting pressure from not-for-profit and charitable organizations—including arts groups, many of whom were abruptly excluded from the grants after eligibility rules were changed in 2010 to allow only youth-oriented arts organizations to qualify. Charities and not-for-profits have also been calling on the government to honour a 1999 memorandum of agreement to allocate one-third of gaming revenues to the non-profit sector.

Read the whole article at the Georgia Straight

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Key year for music schools

When the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's School of Music opened its doors in the downtown core this summer, many thought it would rattle the music education cage in the metropolitan area.

 And yes, the VSO School of Music's enrolment level has surpassed its expectations of having 300 students registered by June 2012, something it managed to do in less than six months. What it didn't know was who it would draw the most attention from: children and seniors.

 Of the 300 students registered at the school since it opened (total capacity is 1,500), 100 are enrolled in the early childhood program. "We knew there was capacity for classical music instruction in Vancouver," VSO School of Music executive director Shaun Taylor said. "We weren't expecting the early childhood program to take off as fast as it did. "For the last couple of years in downtown Vancouver, you've seen more strollers and there's an elementary school approved to be built in the International Village area. According to Statistics Canada, where we're located in the downtown core [on Seymour between Robson and Smithe] is the area that has seen the most growth and is anticipated to have the most residential growth."
Read more »

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