VOL. 130 | NO. 212 | Friday, October 30, 2015
Memphis Music Initiative Launches With $20M Strategy
By Andy Meek
A pair of music-focused enterprises in Memphis are investing in the city’s homegrown music talent and helping cultivate a music ecosystem here.
The Memphis Music Initiative will host a launch event next week as part of an effort toward building awareness with stakeholders. It encompasses a five-year, $20 million strategy built around things like helping sustain existing music education programs in schools.
Meanwhile, the music-based nonprofit The Consortium: MMT this week opened a Talent Development Complex and resource center at 119 S. Main St. to serve as a support hub for local artists.
The consortium is the organization founded in late 2012 by legendary songwriter David Porter, who with his partner Isaac Hayes was inducted into the National Songwriting Hall of Fame in 2005. Porter’s string of chart hits has included tunes like “Soul Man,” “Hold on, I’m coming” and “Dreamlover,” among others, and his decision to launch a nonprofit was motivated by a desire to connect young musicians and music-related talent with resources, industry veterans and opportunities.
Memphis Music Initiative executive director Darren Isom said his organization has spent the last 10 months piloting its work and offering grants and activities to the communities and community organizations that “will own” his group’s impact.
Its launch happens Nov. 5 at the Tower Room, 5100 Poplar Ave. During the evening event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the initiative’s team will tell the story of its work, what it’s been doing so far in Memphis schools and share the ways the organization wants to support the development of young people through music engagement.
“Our formal launch serves as an opportunity for us to share this initiative with a broader set of stakeholders and to allow those who’ve already been a part of this … work to connect with fellow change makers,” Isom said.
The launch is being marked by the launch of a website, MemphisMusicInitiative.org, and other digital properties.
The initiative already has set the pieces of its work in motion. A string of grants was made to youth development and music engagement-focused groups around town in recent months. And a five-month strategic development process preceded the identification of three areas of work.
The initiative will focus in school, on helping sustain and expand music instruction partly through teaming up with local musicians. It will work to expand “high-quality” out of school programs to reach more young people, and it will help develop places “to spur innovation,” where young people can hear, learn and play music.
In addition to Isom, the initiative’s leadership team includes director of partnerships and operations Deron Hall, who’s worked for several years in arts management and nonprofit leadership. Lecolion Washington, an associate professor of bassoon at the University of Memphis and founder and director of the PRIZM Chamber Music Festival, is the initiative’s director of in-school programs.
ArtsMemphis, the Memphis Black Arts Alliance, the Soulsville Foundation and Visible Community Music School are some of the initiative’s partners in its work of investing in music programming for young people.