The Harlem School of the Arts has been teaching local children everything from music to dance to theater to visual arts for decades and was one of New York's most treasured educational institutions. Yet in recent years, the nonprofit school has met with financial ruin and sadly been forced to close its doors, cutting the opportunity for young people with talent the same opportunity as those who can afford Manhattan's pricier arts schools.
It is unclear whether or not the school, which offered many classes for free or by scholarship and served 3,000 students a year, will ever open again.
This is a clear example of what Music Unites is working to prevent through raising funds for schools just like The Harlem School of Arts. Without places such as this, talent cannot be nurtured and dreams go unlived for future generations. Ms. Akeju, the former president of the school, who attended as 13-year-old girl in 1964, tells the New York Times in this week's article on the closing:
"It was the first time I saw people that looked just like me doing the things that I loved to do," she said. "You could make it as an artist. You could be an opera singer. Before that it was just a fantasy. It really changed my life."
Music Unites recently brought Capitol Records artist Jaicko to meet with the children at St. Mark the Evangelist School in Harlem and has held many other outreach programs that bring established and emerging musicians into the school systems to interact with the students.
The charity will be holding a benefit concert with world-class violinist Charlie Siem at Spin NYC on April 29 that will help us continue with these types of programs. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to Music Unites to help bring music education into underfunded and underserved inner city schools. Do your part and buy a ticket of the Music Unites website -- the cost is just $40.
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