Saturday, April 9, 2016

Feedback Requested: Community Music Collaborative Proposal

As an under graduate student of Westminster Choir College, I have an Art Administration course and as a requirement have to draft a proposal for a non-profit arts organization.  For this purpose, I am proposing "Community Music Collaborative" as an institution to serve the music education, performance and entertainment needs of communities disproportionately deprived of access due to lack of full support in the public education system and lack of affordability to a high percentage of local residents.  One priority in this proposal is that the project would be advised by the client communities and would have a structure providing community control of design and goals of the project.  The proposal is that the first location would be Newark, NJ and that once established the institution would look to expand into other communities.  A draft of the executive summary follows.

I am looking for input and feedback particularly from residents of communities that could benefit from such a project.

I would appreciate feedback to this idea and that can be provided either in comments or by e-mailing or contacting me (Robert Colby-Witanek) on Facebook.  You can also comment under postings of this article.

The following are a few questions that you can possibly answer - but feel free to provide feedback in whatever format you would like to do.

How do you think this project could benefit you and your community?

What is the current status of music education in the public education in the community - is it adequate or lacking?  Can you provide details?

What should the designers of this project keep in mind to best meet community needs?

What organizations and existing non-profit groups in the community are doing similar work and might be interested in this project?

Please provide any suggestions and feedback you would like to offer.

To be clear - this is *not* at this point a real proposal being made to anyone for funding.  However, the final proposal will be available to anyone that wants to review it.


Community Music Collaborative is a nonprofit agency providing community based and community controlled music projects including music education and performance serving middle school and high school students and adults, including those formerly incarcerated in a community in crisis from neglect, poverty, lack of economic opportunity, joblessness, street violence, poor services, environmental and water issues, and street crime. The project will form partnerships with music departments of local universities, music conservatories, local professional musicians, and community-based grassroots organizations.  One of Community Music Collaborative’s goals is to foster a commitment to the musical needs of a community under many unusual pressures from an discriminatory and neglectful system and to provide a project around which community unity can be established toward finding solutions to the many extreme issues this community is facing, from street violence, to joblessness, under funded schools, water shut offs and poisoning, homelessness, subsistence cutbacks.  Another aim is to address the lack of access to music education given the removal ofor cuts to music education from public schools and the lack of affordability for most neighborhood residents by providing access to music education and collaboraitve opportunities regardless of ability to afford music instruments and education.  Only through working relationships in a haven from the community dangers, with the ability to enjoy the richness of music, performing and as the audience, can a sense of community friendship and unity developthat will give the community the wherewithal to withstand the severe pressures that include existential pressures to be able to survive from one month to the next.

Through endemic systemic neglect and economic depression, severely endangered communities are facing perilous challenges to their very survival.  To accomplish the stated goals, communities must be empowered toward organization and unity in pursuit of solutions to the many challenges currently imperiling these endangered communities.
Through repeated failures in the classroom and the development of destructive habits, at-risk young people have lost faith in the possibilities that await them if they are successful in putting their lives together. To accomplish this goal, young people must be in a caring, inclusive learning environment that promotes their best effort and reinforces personal respect.

Community Music Collaborative is a project that is in direct response to the growing number of communities that are in total free fall due to oppressive social conditions.  The goal of the project is to enter a collaborative relationship with communities toward solutions to existential challenges to those communities and to provide music opportunities in a safe and rewarding environment.

Community Music Collaborative will focus primarily on middle school and high school aged youths as well as adults including the formerly incarcerated.  It is expected that in coming years, given trends, the situation for the dispossessed in NJ communities like Camden, Newark, Trenton, New Brunswick, Bridgeton will continue to deteriorate as priorities continue to shift toward reduced support for impoverished communities, cutbacks of services, education funding and over all austerity.

Community Music Collaborative's mentoring projects will utilize a mixed professional / volunteer staff of music teachers, music professionals and music major students and offer students sliding scale rates and full scholarship based upon ability to pay.  The project will include weekly lessons and for more advanced students, twice weekly group sessions to work on ensemble material.  The mixed staff will meet semi-weekly to keep the project on target toward its goals and the professional staff will provide leadership and guidance to volunteer staff members.

Over time, Community Music Collaborative will create a learning environment that will be an invaluable resource to youth and adults, aspiring volunteers and the community at large.  The performance venue will provide a means for bringing the community together to enjoy the music of the students but also a venue for other community events and the centers will provide meeting space for local community grass roots organizations.  The center will also provide information to clients about services available to meet their human needs.  The by-laws define the importance of community input and control over the directions and goals of Community Music Collaborative.

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