As those who work in the arts question their role in the new millennium, there are many discussions about how arts organizations should be reaching people. The author of this paper believes the conversation about how organizations can reach people better can only occur after some core questions have been thoroughly examined and spoken about. Critical to our identity, and thus to our plans and growth are the following basic questions:
We as artists, administrators, and grantors must first invigorate our sense of what the arts are and what the arts mean or can potentially mean to individuals in our society. Only then can we ask ourselves how we can serve our populations, reach broader populations, function as a relevant positive force in society, and effectively promote the arts in our civilization.
Increasingly, studies are showing the overwhelmingly positive effect of great music upon the human intellect and spirit. Higher test scores, better discipline, a greater sense of cooperation with peers all seem to result from contact with great art. It is important to realize that these benefits were garnered, not after presenting children with a snappy, high-tech education “product” with defined “objectives,” but simply after untutored exposure to Mozart. In this light we can confidently rethink certain assumptions about the goals and construction of children’s concerts, placing the emphasis back on the music. Perhaps after all, opening up the confining mental and spiritual boundaries of our lives is the crucial concert experience for young audiences, just as it is for adults.