Barack Obama is the President-Elect. This we know. But, what could this mean for music? This is what I look forward to seeing over the next little while. In this period of economic crisis, it was Obama that the musicians went to, not McCain. The Barack Obama Music Coalition includes artists such as David Crosby, Joanna Newsome, will.i.am, Morrisey, Wilco and The Greatful Dead as supporters of Obama. His policy towards music and the arts will come later. What I want to look at in this post is what musicians can get from Obama’s campaign so far.
What I’m most interested in is Obama’s grassroots support base, that saw him raise record amounts of money to support his campaign. The way he did this is instead of focussing solely on large amounts of money (EG: Private Reception with John McCain at the Phoenix Convention Centre: US$25,000) and instead encouraging every day people to donate small amounts of money. Can only find $20? That’s fantastic. You can spare $5 a week? That’s awesome. It’s this sort of thinking that I think will save Classical music.
Let’s take, for example, ANAM who recently had its funding cut by Federal Arts Minister, Peter Garrett. It operates on $2.9 million annually. Currently, on the facebook group “I Support ANAM (Australian National Academy of Music)” there are 2,722 members (correct as of 5:40pm WDST 5 November, 2008). If every one of those members donated $88 a month, or $22 a week, for a year, that would keep ANAM running for another year. That’s just the members of that group. It’s not taking into consideration the members of the general public that would support ANAM, but don’t have Facebook. It’s not taking into consideration those members of the group who would be willing to give more (and on the flip side, those who cannot give as much).
By tapping into the idea that “even a little bit can help” and reaching out to many people, we can support the arts, not only in Australia, but all around the world, giving back to this vital part of our culture.