As we in the performing arts continue to struggle with finances and other resources in the aftershock of COVID-19, with no end in sight, how can we inform taxpayers and policymakers of the value of the performing arts—beyond entertainment and filling seats—as we seek additional public funds?
More and more, some artists are going into their communities to show their value. One example is Third Coast Percussion, the Grammy Award–winning group currently Artist-in-Residence at George Mason University.
While providing unique virtual music training to Northern Virginia public school students, Third Coast Percussion will appear November 10, 2020, in an online event to discuss critical issues such as music and racial justice in America as well as what drives their entrepreneurial spirit.
“We are so lucky to be working with such an innovative ensemble of musicians who are embracing these challenging times and circumstances,” said Adrienne Bryant Godwin, Director of Programming at George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. “Thanks to their flexibility and creativity, we are able to continue serving our community in new and exciting ways!”
“Education and community engagement is one of the core components of our mission in Third Coast Percussion,” said one ensemble member. “Inspiring a sense of curiosity and creativity in people of all ages is something that we strive to do through all of our performances with adult audiences, as well as our educational programs with students.
“We want everyone to be interested in exploring new ways of engaging with the world around them through music! Hopefully, connecting with young students through fun interactive sessions helps to ensure that future generations stay curious and actively engaged with the arts throughout their lives.”
In its performing and school outreach, Third Coast is known for playing instruments such as xylophones, marimbas, and vibraphones, along with wooden planks, singing bowls, and other found objects to expand the sonic possibilities of the percussion repertoire.
Julia Sullivan, who teaches music therapy to students ages 5 to 21 at Fairfax County’s Kilmer Center, noted the help that Third Coast outreach provides. Many of her students, she said, “are nonverbal; but with the virtual collaboration from Third Coast Percussion, the students responded. They knew they were being heard.”
For Zachary Gomez, band and music teacher at Poe Middle School, Third Coast ensemble brings exciting “additional music learning resources” as they share their vast musical knowledge and experience and engage with his student virtually.
“The Mason Artist-in-Residence program aims to engage and inspire the diverse audiences served by the Center for the Arts,” added Bryant Godwin. Third Coast Percussion is a terrific example of the program.
Please let me know what you may be doing in your communities. We all know the arts are invaluable. Let’s communicate that with examples. Let’s bring more such work to the attention of others.
Mason Arts at Home presents Mason Artist-in-Residence “Third Coast Percussion: A Discussion on Entrepreneurship in the Arts.” A virtual event presented Tuesday, November 10, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. EST. Tickets are free; registration is not required. The Third Coast Percussion event will be streamed on the GMU’s YouTube channel, Facebook page, and website. The event includes a moderated conversation followed by live questions and answers. For more information click here.