-Local business leader met with elected officials and national policy makers on importance of music education in the face of proposed budget cuts-
McKeesport, PA – May 30, 2017 – Last week, local area business leader, Mark Despotakis, Director of Market Development at Progressive Music joined nearly 100 music industry leaders, notable artists and arts education activists to advocate for all school-aged children to have access to quality, comprehensive school music education programs. As part of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Advocacy Fly-In, held May 22-24, the delegation met with Members of Congress and other policy stakeholders to reinforce the importance of music as part of a well-rounded education. The issue of music education takes on a special importance this year as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law in 2015 by President Obama readies for state-level implementation in 2018, currently faces underfunding. The law specifies music as core part of a well-rounded education for all K-12 students.
“Progressive Music was started 70 years ago by a school music teacher and our focus has been always been on expanding school music programs and making music makers for life,” noted Despotakis. “I spend a lot of time on the policy side of things to help our customers continue to receive the many benefits that come from a comprehensive education that includes music.”
The Advocacy week began on Monday, May 22, where Despotakis joined The NAMM Foundation in awarding the SupportMusic Champion Award to Senator Robert Casey (PA). The award was presented in recognition of the Senator’s long history in music education advocacy and role as a champion of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
On Tuesday, he prepared for his efforts on Capitol Hill by participating in advocacy training at the Newseum, during which he and fellow music industry leaders were apprised of current issues facing public school music programs and briefed on ESSA and the current political climate, from a variety of policy and arts leaders, including representatives from the United States Department of Education, Americans for the Arts (AFTA), the National Governors Association (NGA), the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME), and the National School Board Association (NSBA),among others. The group also enjoyed a special
lunchtime session on current policy trends presented by PBS News Hour contributor, New York Times columnist and Turnaround Arts artist, David Brooks. Despotakis was also trained on developing state-level advocacy efforts for music and arts education to put into practice here in Pennsylvania. In addition to working with NAMM, Progressive Music and Despotakis specifically work with the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) and the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network on state level education policy issues.
On Wednesday, Despotakis met with Congressman Mike Doyle, Matt Cartwright and Charlie Dent as well as representatives from other Congressional offices to advocate for school-level music
programs across the nation and to discuss the multitude of benefits music education espouses such as increased brain function, focus and language development, as discussed in a new research study from Northwestern University. The Country Music Association, VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and former New York Yankees centerfielder and three-time World Series winner, music education champion and Turnaround Arts artist Bernie Williams joined the day of advocacy, sharing his own experience in music education and a desire to create a more musical world.
In addition to the advocacy work, Despotakis was part of a special Congressional reception, held on Wednesday, May 24 in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol that brought together arts advocates and policy makers.
About Progressive Music
Progressive Music is a business with a mission to enrich the quality of life serving as a cultural and community center for all who make music for a living or personal enjoyment, regardless of age of ability. Progressive Music is the link between the public and suppliers of quality musical merchandise. The Progressive Music staff are professionals whose expertise assist, guide, and motivate people in the selection of music industry products as well present music education to the public through lessons, seminars and advocacy. Progressive Music is committed to their products with an experienced and knowledgeable service center. To learn more, visit www.progressivemusiccompany.com or visit Progressive Music on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.
The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) is the not-for-profit association with a mission to strengthen the $17 billion music products industry. NAMM is comprised of approximately 10,300 member companies located in 103 countries. NAMM events and members fund the NAMM Foundation‘s efforts to promote the pleasures and benefits of music, and advance active participation in music making across the lifespan. For more information about NAMM, please visit www.namm.org, call 800.767.NAMM (6266) or follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.