“There is a hunger for schools to want to give these experiences to these kids,” says David Bradley of LiveConnections. “That’s what we provide.”
The co-founder and arts education consultant of the Philly nonprofit is talking about the unfortunate trend of disappearing arts programs from Philadelphia’s public schools. “Art and music are an incredibly important part of education, and that fuels everything. It is the ability to say what if and make something new; have an idea and find a way to express it. [Art and music are] the core part of a human being. We are committed to make sure that young people can have the experience of how it gets made. The arts help you understand others experiences.”
Five years ago, World Cafe Live founder Hal Real came to Bradley with an idea to foster community involvement in musical programming, stimulating collaborations and new relationships among artists of different genres. They brought together 30 artists to talk about ways to cross genre boundaries, and bring audiences up close to them. In that room, the first of three programs was created and LiveConnections was born.
It began in 2008 with three Bridge Sessions, which invited about 1000 students to interactively explore diverse music styles; since then, the LiveConnections team (including general manager Melinda Steffy, ClassicAlive curator Mary Javian, LiveStudio producer Galea MacGregor, and co-founders Hal Real and David Bradley) has pushed growth to connect with as many of Philadelphia’s urban youth as possible. Now reaching 4,500 students of six Philadelphia partner schools and over 30 participating schools across the region, LiveConnections has teamed up with the Philadelphia Orchestra’s School Partnership Program and Knight Arts Challenge to facilitate parallel programs ClassicAlive and LiveStudio.
“All of our programs set out to cross boundaries and show how different musical styles can relate,” Bradely mentions as he explains that each offered program traverses over one another. Going into the plans for this upcoming year, he starts to talk with exuberance.
“LiveConnections has become a hub of new ideas new collaborations for how music can reach the community.” Bradely goes on about about a partner settlement with Christopher Columbus charter school to offer students the chance to play together in percussion lessons, and a new partnership with Art-Reach to stream Bridge Sessions and give workshops to adults with intellectual disabilities. “This year set up an emblem of what we want .”
Tonight, the LiveConnections team celebrates its 5th Anniversary at World Cafe Live with a sold out performance by some of the participating artists involved in the program (including Joseph Conyers of Philadelphia Orchestra, Alex Shaw of Alo Brasil, songwriter and producer Andrew Lipke, and Hanna Khoury of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture). Summing up everything, Bradely says, “Its whole venture for 5 years has been about collaboration, trying ideas, and bringing in more and more people.”
Check out all the details for tonight’s anniversary party here.