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from the desk of the executive director

A Legacy of Parent Involvement Michael George, Executive Director

We have all observed the informal connec- tions made between young performers and family members at concerts. It rang- es from eye contact between the stage and parents in the audience to waving

arms, calling out names, whistles, cheers, flowers and messages placed in printed programs. Clearly, it isn’t the size of an audience that matters. What matters most is the presence in the audience of family members. Parents and other family mem- bers are the most important audience for a young performer. This will always be the case.

Wisconsin’s legacy of strong school music programs and state level music organiza- tions contributes to a large population of people who themselves were involved in music when they were in school. Thousands of them continue their direct involvement in music today through com- munity groups, churches and schools as well as folk, jazz, rock, ethnic ensembles and solo performances.

WSMA Solo & Ensemble Festivals and Concert Festivals have involved thou- sands of students each year for over 70 years. Walk into any gathering of people in Wisconsin and ask the question, “How many of you, when you were in school, participated in a solo & ensemble music festival or have a child or grandchild who is now participating? Hands will go up. It is a remarkable legacy of involvement. This means that in every Wisconsin school and community there are parents who want their own children to have opportunities in music because they know the value and meaning of music education first hand. They also set an example for families who do not have a tradition of music involve- ment in their history.


In many states, the number of adults participating in music is dropping. The opposite is true in Wisconsin. The num- ber of community music organizations, societies and informal groups continues to grow. Music involvement for thera- peutic purposes is gaining credibility in hospitals, clinics and retirement centers. Involvement in the music and the other arts by adults has economic implications as well.

In a study of economic impact commis- sioned by the Wisconsin Arts Board sev- eral years ago, data was gathered from 381 Wisconsin arts organizations as well as 6,210 audience surveys. The data revealed that Wisconsin’s nonprofit arts industry generates $418,055,786 in economic ac- tivity annually, including:

• 15,103 full-time equivalent jobs

• $276,424,120 in resident household income

• $27,402,880 in local government revenues

• $34,437,520 in state government revenues

Nationally, according to Americans for the Arts, the nonprofit arts industry gen- erates 5.7 million jobs and $166.2 billion in economic activity every year, resulting in $29.6 billion in federal, state and local government revenues. The $166.2 billion total includes $63.1 billion in spending by arts organizations and $103.1 billion in event-related spending by arts audiences.

“This study is a myth buster,” said Robert L. Lynch, Americans for the Arts president and CEO. “Most Americans understand that the arts improve our quality of life. This study demonstrates that the arts are an industry that stimulates the economy in cities and towns across the country. A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive.” You can access the full report through the Wisconsin Arts Board web site: asp?linkcatid=3454&linkid=1654&loci d=171

Over the past year, representatives of WSMA, WMEA and Wisconsin Founda- tion for School Music have met to update

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January 2012

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