Well, we’ve had a good run here, and I sincerely hope that one of my most recent research assistants or another will pick this project up where we left off this academic year and do more work with it for her senior project. No, no, not the miniature research assistants pictured above. Those guys have come with me to our Midwestern home. Orangeburg was good to them, and y’all were good to Jenn and me, too.
It’s important to remember that this project is ongoing. It was never really mine to begin with. I initiated it as a truly integrative community project (hence the name) in every sense of the phrase. What happens to it now will be up to the good people of Orangeburg County. So Big Lou, Esther Jones, Melonie Bryant, Friends of the Edisto, Claflin and SC State Universities, Senator Hutto (whose recent response to my note about SC Arts Commission funding for the Project was awesome, by the way), everybody at the Fine Arts Center, I am so grateful to all of you for doing this important work with me.
My thanks to you comes with a set of challenges, though:
invest in Orangeburg County’s considerable artistic resources for the long-term by tapping sources of state and federal funding to serve the under-served;
listen to people like Curtis Foskey and Cliff Emery on thorny infrastructural, logistical, and interpersonal issues–they’re GEMS;
circle the wagons among the music educators in the County to provide better resources for youngsters who desperately want to learn, but lack resources to purchase lessons and instruments;
find some way to get those same youngsters interested in the rich cultural history of music and musicianship in the County; and
keep finding new ways to engage the broadest possible cross-section of the county in all of these activities, because none of this will matter unless every sector of the population has some kind of voice in the process of shaping local culture.
I hope the Orangeburg MUSIC Project has identified some areas of great potential impact for these challenges, even as it has also documented existing resources for use in those endeavors.