McKeesport, PA – May 29, 2018 – Last week, local area business leader, Mark Despotakis of 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 21-24, the delegation met with Members of Congress and other policy stakeholders to reinforce the importance of music as part of a well-rounded education.
“Music education is core to our business, but it’s always been about more than business to us,” notes Progressive Music’s Director of Market Development, Mark Despotakis. “We believe in what music does for all of us across the lifespan but it’s especially crucial for all students to have access to music education that helps them become well-rounded and cultured members of society. That’s why we take our roles as advocates at the federal, state and local level so seriously and take the time to participate in events like the NAMM Advocacy Fly-In.”
The Advocacy week began on Monday, May 21 with a Day of Service at The Kennedy Center assisting with the D.C. Public Schools Music Festival. Members of the group guided students through the performance process, as well as provided needed maintenance and repair to many of the student’s instruments. In the evening, the delegation welcomed prominent news contributor and author Charlie Sykes for an address on the current state of politics in America.
On Tuesday, Despotakis prepared for his efforts on Capitol Hill by participating in advocacy training, during which he and fellow music industry leaders were apprised of current issues facing public school music programs and briefed on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); a landmark in federal education policy, which places more emphasis on a well-rounded education – including music – and gives more decision-making to states and local districts. A variety of policy and arts leaders briefed the group, including the Arts Education Partnership, the Education Commission on the States, the Country Music Association, and Turnaround Arts. At the morning meeting, Music Matters, a new compilation of research was released by the Arts Education Partnership, the Country Music Association, and The NAMM Foundation. The research piece underscores a variety of academic and behavioral benefits such as increased focus, managing and navigating problems, and enhanced memory and vocabulary development than non-musicians. A copy of Music Matterscan be downloaded here: https://www.ecs.org/music-matters/
That evening, Despotakis joined The NAMM Foundation in awarding the SupportMusic Champion Award to Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). The award was presented in recognition of the Representative’s tireless work, and strong support of music education, including her lead role in the 2015 passage of the bipartisan ESSA. The Representative is also the founder and co-chair of the Congressional STEAM Caucus (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), a bipartisan group which recognizes the benefits of the arts and sciences in developing critical thinking skills for success in career and life.
On Wednesday, Despotakis met with Senator Pat Toomey and staff members from the offices of Senator Bob Casey and Congressman Mike Doyle as well as other elected officials to advocate for full funding of school-level music programs across the nation, as stipulated inESSA, and to discuss the multitude of benefits music education espouses.
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 policymakers, and underscored the importance of continuing to advocate for all children to have access to music education.
Progressive Music’s advocacy efforts don’t stop in Washington, DC. Despotakis handles public policy and advocacy work for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) and is an active member of the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network. Advocating for equitable access to music education for all children is a key mission at Progressive Music.
To view images from the trip, please visit:
NAMM Day Of Service with DC Public Schools Music Festival At The Kennedy Center
NAMM Music Education Advocacy Fly-In Keynote: Charlie Sykes http://assignments.gettyimages.com/mm/nicePath/gyipa_public?nav=pr582399602
The NAMM Foundation Honors Rep. Suzanne Bonamici With The SupportMusic Champion Award http://assignments.gettyimages.com/mm/nicePath/gyipa_public?nav=pr582398761
NAMM, CMA And VH1 Save The Music Foundation Day Of Music Education Advocacy On Capitol Hill & NAMM, CMA And VH1 Save The Music Foundation Congressional Reception Celebrating Music Education
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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 104 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.