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Ministry creates music school for at-risk youth

Monday, May 26, 2014

Residents of four juvenile correctional facilities will now have the benefit of formal music training through the Music Schools in the Community Collaborative Project, launched by Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas at the St Mary’s Children’s Home in Tacarigua on May 3.


“This programme is all about empowerment,” said Douglas. “It is about giving young people opportunities to engage in music learning activities for development—to fine-tune every drop of latent talent, to understand, express and appreciate music of various cultures.”


In addition to the St Mary’s Children’s Home, other beneficiaries of the programme include St Michael Home for Boys in Diego Martin, Youth Training Centre in Arouca, and Western Division Police Youth Club in Petit Valley. Artistes in Residence are veteran musicians Roy Cape and Errol Ince.


“The programme focuses not just on music, but also teaches students responsibility and how to be models in their communities,” added Douglas. 


“This is why the mentorship component continues to be a significant part of this programme. Participants will benefit from the years of experience of our musical icons, as there is no better way to gain insight and learn life lessons than to have the opportunity to interact with others who have already accomplished what you are striving to do.”


The initiative follows those of 2012 and 2013 when the Arts and Multiculturalism Ministry administered two semesters of its Music School in the Panyard, with over 250 participants during 2012, and over 300 in 2013. 


This year, the range of beneficiaries has been expanded by developing relationships with institutions that cater to youth at risk, and collaborating with organisations that have a well-established body of work in that field.


The programme’s participants will be exposed to elementary and intermediate levels of instrument training on woodwind, brass, keyboard, drumkit, marching band drum, and the steelpan. It began on May 6 and ends on July 26.


The objective is to expose 200 participants to holistic professional development in music in a programme that comprises a 12-week cycle of 84 contact hours, with 50 participants in classes at each of the four venues. In addition to residents of the facilities, the Music Schools in the Community Collaborative Project is open to all citizens.


“Social outreach institutions have traditionally been guiding lights of hope in communities,” said Minister Douglas. “The involvement of residents of these institutions, we believe, will provide practical strategies for alternative life choices in which hopelessness, desperation, crime or delinquency are no longer options.” 


Innovation in the cultural and creative industries is crucial for sustainable advancement in the global entertainment industry, he opined, contending that development of “our innate artistry and creativity” can significantly enrich all cultural workers financially and socially, thereby contributing to the Gross Domestic Product of the local economy.


Also delivering remarks at the function were director of Culture, Ingrid Ruben, manager of St Mary’s Children’s Home, Patricia Martin-Ward, and deputy manager of St Michael’s Home for Boys, Anne Marie Arnaud-Thomas.


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