In the spirit of the Harlem Children’s Zone where organizations are “creating an interlocking web of services” to meet the needs of all of its children, Ben Cameron, Program Director of Arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; Daphne Griffin, Executive Director of the Boston Centers for Youth & Families; and Tanya Maggi, Director of Performance Outreach at New England Conservatory; all stressed how important it is for an organization to define its core values and then seek partnerships whose values intersect.
These are the value-based questions that Ben (in photo left with Ben Zander and Mark Churchill) asks arts organizations to help them better define their role in their communities:
- What is the value of my program to the community?
- What is the value my program alone brings better than anyone else?
- How will my community be affected if it is deprived of music tomorrow?
- How does my organization optimally structure itself and its behavior to become the best conduit of music education and social change for my community?
Dan Trahey who helped start an El Sistema initiative in Baltimore, called the ORCHKids program, proves Ben's point. His program provides snacks, academic tutoring and instrumental music for children Pre-K through 2nd grades. The program has a successful partnership with the Baltimore School District because their values intersect and are expressed in this ORCHKids mission statement:
“Create an after-school program devoted to music appreciation, academics, citizenship, community awareness, family and health (emotional, social and physical).”
ORCHKids takes place during and after school and continues to expand: testimony of how much the program is valued by the community. Orchestra is seen as a metaphor for an ideal society – each member is valued, strives together through teamwork and beautifully communicate a shared vision through diverse voices. Watch a short video about the ORCHKids program and its accomplishments.
As I looked over the key elements of the El Sistema program and reflected on the values of my own community of Juneau, I began developing a list of core values or “Key of C’s”:
- Child First, Music Second: every child is an asset and deserves access to the lifelong social, emotional and academic benefits that music provides, regardless of their financial means.
- Community Building through ensemble, peer mentoring and community partnerships to help students reach their potential and become contributing members of society.
- Consistency of Program: start early and everyday so that students have a daily haven of safety, joy and sense of value.
- Challenge: through discipline and teamwork, students strive together to master difficult works.
- Classical and Culturally Relevant Repertoire is emphasized to respect the contributions of a diversely rich community.
- Child-Centered: instruction engages the whole child through movement and joyful music-making.