Group hopes to bring the arts back into Philadelphia schools

- Bringing the arts back into our schools is the goal for a group in Philadelphia. It has formed its own symphony orchestra.

FOX 29's Bill Anderson has the story.

Robert Blackson works with young people daily in his role at the Temple University Contemporary Art Gallery. His concern for their development was recently piqued as he looked into the funding of arts programs in the city.

“Back in 2007, the support for the arts across the entire school district of Philadelphia was 1.3 million dollars.  You fast forward ten years and instrumental music in the School District of Philadelphia had a budget of $50,000 total."

$50,000 for hundreds of schools. When you hear that, Robert says it's easy to understand why so many students are doing without learning to play instruments and the impact it has.

“We walked into this beautiful old gymnasium that was just stuffed with broken pianos. I started reaching out to the district and said how many broken instruments are there? And that’s when we saw the list grow to over a 1,000 broken instruments.”

The point is to get all of us to recognize the importance of music in the schools in a really unique way.  They want all of us to care, maybe even help repair these instruments and they’re doing it with an orchestra of broken instruments.

Hundreds will be playing a symphony at the 23rd Street Armory to raise awareness. Volunteers told us how important this initiative is to them.

“It’s a great opportunity to help get the music program back in the schools," Tiyonna said. I love the project. I love that it helps the schools and brings all these different people together.”

The symphony is made up of volunteers. parents, students and professional musicians.Listening to them practice clearly made their point.  Broken instruments played alone are not great. But when the community works together and in this case plays together, things improve quickly.

Robert explained that the symphony of broken instruments has come up with numerous ways all of us can help.

“They can adopt an instrument by going to our website, they can play in the orchestra, they can volunteer, they can show up for the concert, all of those different ways are ways that people can actively see their engagement and their involvement making a difference.”

The symphony is another example of a problem that many of us are aware of and a possible solution that all of us can participate in for goodness sake.

 

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