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Photos:  AIEG Teaching artist, MacRae Wylde’s sculptures for the Music Festival of the Gorge event at Waterfront Park in September.

As we move into our third year, we are very aware that the Studio 2 School funding will ultimately come to an end.  As we have considered and built our sustainability plan we have done it just as we have developed the programming – slowly and steadily.  Our approach of slow, intentional growth begins with two programs to that help us sustain future programming.  One, morning sectionals are private music lessons for 6th-8th grade band students that occur before school at zero period.  We currently offer lessons free to students who can not afford lessons and as a pay for service opportunity for those who can.  The program has been instrumental in retaining new music students who have little or no music training before joining the band.  The income earned pays the instructors and other programming needs outside of the morning sectionals.  We were surprised by then number of pay for service students who took advantage of the program.  This inspired us to expand the program to include more instructors and to run the entire school year.  We foresee this as a consistent revenue stream to will sustain this program and give us the opportunity to still offer scholarships to students who need them.

The second program is the Music Festival of the Gorge (MFOG).  We have partnered with the family of Matt Klee and the LIVE LIKE MATT fund to support the development of the summer music festival in September at the waterfront park where local musicians support the growth of local music.  This September the event was in its second year.  We have worked tirelessly to include all the music specialists at every HRCSD school in the planning and they help us to determine where the funds raised at the event will be used to improve the performing arts programs throughout the district.  In the past two years, the event has raised over $12,000.

With both programs, the greatest asset is the slow and steady growth model we have adopted because it has allowed us to test programming to see if it will work, make adjustments and then move forward.  Broad community support of the  LIVE LIKE MATT fund because of Matt’s impact on so many lives in our community, before his death, has also been an asset in developing MFOG.  People who might not typically support the work we do at Arts in Education of the Gorge are deeply connected to MFOG and now they are seeing the benefit of their work with the festival on youth in our schools.  Very cool.

We will leverage the strength of the morning sectionals model by simply maintaining it.  The more students and parents who see positive benefits from the program, the more new students enroll and allow the program to grow and the income to increase.  We will leverage the success and broad appeal of MFOG to harness more business sponsors and a strong commitment from HRCSD music teachers will continue to attract families with school-aged children to the event.  As the event grows and becomes a community tradition, we will be able to attract annual funders.

We foresee the greatest challenge for MFOG being the number of fundraising events in our small community.  Many individuals and business have donor fatigue because so many people ask them for support.  It is our hope that we will combat that challenge by drawing on out of town visitors to support the large, outdoor event at the peak of our fruit harvest season.  This year, Matt Klee’s sister and a friend were interviewed by KGW to draw attention to the event.  Next year, will plan to advertise long the Growers and Shippers of the Gorge to capitalize on regular early fall Fruit Loop traffic.

Submitted by Shelley Toon Lindberg