In my last post, I wrote about my trip to the Flint School of Performing Arts, where, in addition to teaching, I had the wonderful experience of playing pop-up performances in various settings across the city, including a homeless shelter and a farmers market. This video is from that day, expertly produced by Kyle Sanchez of Mayberry Media.

At the beginning of the video, Glenn Wilson, the director of Communities First, Inc., the Flint non-profit which presents the Culture Shock program, sums up the whole experience perfectly – we touched many people from different walks of life in a beautiful, surprising way.

There are a lot of reasons to admire the work Glenn and his wife Essence are doing at Communities First, providing affordable housing and other vital services to Flint residents in need. What I especially admire is how committed they are to including the arts in their work, and that they see the experience of going to a concert or seeing a beautiful painting as an essential and necessary part of human existence, not just something nice for the fortunate.

Their commitment to this doesn’t end with Culture Shock – Communities First partners with the Flint Symphony and the FSPA to bring their clients to performances, often for the first time in their lives.

Being part of great work like this was more than enough reason for me to make this trip. But as an advocate for an art form which, frankly, needs a lot of help, I also want to highlight the reaction of Susan Borrego, chancellor of the University of Michigan at Flint, who came to the performance at the school’s student union food court. It is a perfect endorsement of bringing great music to new spaces – here it is again:

Thank you, Sue, for putting it so perfectly – I hope the music world listens!

I would love to help more orchestras and concert presenters fill their seats with new listeners by going out into their communities with Bach and Boombox, especially when there’s a chance to bring great music to the underserved. I hope partnerships like these between arts organizations and community development groups flourish everywhere, and I’d like to help. If you have a place in mind, please let me know, and we’ll get started!

Till next time (and probably next year!),

Nat

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