Back in February I joined the Lawrence Music Alliance. It’s a relatively new organization that is working to improve the situation for working musicians in the area, and keep the music culture vibrant and growing. It’s my understanding that the thing has been more or less spearheaded by Fally Afani of I Heart Local Music fame, and musician/songwriter Nick Carswell, At the meeting last winter, they spoke about a survey sent out to folks in the Lawrence area, asking for feedback about the local music scene. Two messages came through with particular clarity: people want more free live music, and more all-ages music events. The implication of the first point is simple enough: funding for live music must not rely on attendance or ticket sales. It has to come from other less fickle sources. It needs to come out of municipal or county budgets, private funding that is solid and sufficient, or some place other than a “point of sale” for an event. Music (I say music, because music and sound are the areas of my practice, but really I am always referring to the arts in general) is more than entertainment. It is a necessary public service, and musicians are public servants. They are workers. Music is the result of life-long intensive labor, and musicians deserve to be respected and supported on this level.
The second point about all-ages events is also pretty straightforward. Adults with children would like to enjoy live music without necessarily having to find sitters every time. They also want to be able to enjoy live music with their kids, and that in turn implies kid-friendly venues; places other than bars or recital halls. There are further implications connected to this idea that deserve to be explored at length; something I will delight in doing in future posts.
Nurturing this kind of awareness in a community, and building the infrastructures to support vibrant musical life, is central to the mission of an organization like LMA, and I’m happy and proud to be a part of it.