Matt Hinsley, the director of the Austin Classical Guitar Society, is kind of a whirlwind of advocacy for supporting guitar education in our public schools. He and the ACGS started in Austin and have now gone statewide and are beginning to go national. After meeting him at GFA in Austin this year I knew I wanted to hear more, so we arranged to talk on the phone about the future of guitar education and how to raise money and awareness in less than perfect economic times. Here’s the beginning of our conversation (the rest will be available as an article on the GSI site later this week):
KN – It seems like the trend right now in fundraising is to focus on the very practical benefits of arts education and a little less of the art for art’s sake argument. Do you think that that’s just where things have to be right now because of our economic situation? Are the arts a harder sell right now?
MH – I think that you have to always look as the whole picture. Obviously different people have different types of interests, and when you’re talking to someone who has the potential to fund a program, then it’s important as a fundraiser to figure out what it is that interests them.
But I don’t see this as a negative thing at all. I mean, as an artist, as someone who’s trained as a performer on the classical guitar and who loves the classical guitar repertoire and loves the instrument from an aesthetic standpoint, I don’t see people’s interest in arts education and funding arts education as a means of training the whole person as necessarily a negative thing that downplays the value of the art for art’s sake. I think it’s all part of the same package.
I think it is valuable to note the powers of arts education in assisting people in all of the ways that the arts can benefit those people. Certainly if you’ve read our social impact study, then you can see in their own words how young people react to a great guitar class.
But the part about art for art’s sake comes in in several different ways. The best way to talk about it in terms of education is actually not by speaking about it at all but by seeing young people perform, and hearing the music. Because in a way, to use a metaphor, a picture paints a thousand words, or hearing performers play beautifully says much more than we can when we’re just talking about educating them. And words are a relatively blunt tool when you’re trying to describe artistic quality. It’s hard to convey what the highest level of artistic quality and artistic education is without having a very long discussion about it. It’s almost better to just hear the music itself.
So I think you have to look at these issues of funding as all part of a large whole. You want the art to be great. You want to connect people with great art. That has to be at the base of any arts education programming – that is quality education and quality art.
Both comments and pings are currently closed.