National service was a major theme of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He proposed to create an Artists’ Corps, a domestic Peace Corps for artists. For the past eight months, a Seattle nonprofit has been part of a national project designed to turn the President’s proposal into reality. Elizabeth Whitford spearheaded the program here in Seattle, “Musician Corps is a national pilot program at the moment to bring artists, musicians specifically, into full–time service. We’re trying to develop a domestic Peace Corps for artists. It’s sort of taking the talent of musicians to teach music, but to use music as an avenue for civic engagement, community building, connections across culture, race and so on.” Congress endorsed the idea when it passed the Kennedy National Service Act last spring, but it didn’t provide any money. So Seattle’s Arts Corps, and the three other pilot sites around the country, had to raise their own funds. The program’s national administrators will study and assess its effectiveness in Seattle and the other participating cities: Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans. They hope to show Congress that an Artist Corps deserves a fully funded place along with such service programs as Teach for America and the Peace Corps. But Whitford says even without the final study results, the Musicians Corp participants believe the project is successful. “We’ve gone ahead and applied jointly to the Corporation for National Service for federal funding. It may be a bit early, but we thought, it’s good to get the conversation going. Our goal is to keep the fellows on site for two years.” To read the full article, follow the link.


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