In an era of shrinking federal and state budgets, more and more arts supporters are stepping forward to make the case about the vital role the arts play in communities and in the lives of young people. This spring, members of the Florida Youth Orchestra traveled all night by bus to the state capital of Tallahassee to make sure legislators got their message.Founded in 1988 and based in Hollywood, Florida, the Florida Youth Orchestra provides classical-music education for musicians ages 6-19. Led by Music Director Thomas Sleeper, more than 360 young musicians perform with ensembles ranging from the advanced Principal Orchestra to string ensembles, chamber groups, and beginning and intermediate divisions.
How to convince busy legislators about the value of government support for the arts? Florida Youth Orchestra musicians invited legislators and their aides to their March 17 concert, called “Art and Soul,” in the State Capitol—and then the orchestra created a more lasting message by producing a video that demonstrated the impact of music education on young lives with testimonials by student musicians, reactions from audiences, and comments from orchestra administrators. Concerning the goals of raising legislative and public awareness of the impact of classical music, FYO Executive Director Myra Weaver commented, “We want to remind legislators that the arts contribute significantly to economic health by bringing a high quality of life to our state, thereby increasing appeal to relocating businesses, potential residents, and tourists.”
Watch Weaver, Resident Conductor Steven Burnes, and FYO tuba player Jordan Hope (pictured below) talk about their trip to Tallahassee and the impact classical music has in their community.