April 1, 2014

Murray Arts Council deserves support

What Hollywood is to movies and Nashville, Tenn., is to country music and Detroit once was to cars, Sweden has become to pop music.

Swedish songwriters and record producers dominate the music charts in North America, Europe and beyond.

But how did this tiny country of just over 9 million residents emerge as a music powerhouse?

A recent article in the magazine “Pacific Standard” says the roots of Sweden’s music industry lies in a decision almost 75 years ago by church leaders and government officials to provide subsidized, often free, music training to anyone who wanted it. They even set up “libraries” where students who could not afford instruments could borrow them so they could play and practice even when not in the classroom.

Over the decades, this has created a population that is very literate in music, and though the program is very democratic — you don’t have to be a prodigy to qualify — it has also helped those with great music ability to find their passion.

So what has any of this to do with northwest Georgia?

Well, this area has a long history of music and arts education, though certainly not as extensive as Sweden’s music training program.

And those efforts have become even greater since the formation of the nonprofit Murray Arts Council last year. The council in Murray County provides music lessons to adults and children alike and showcases the work of local artists and musicians. Officials hope to begin offering art lessons soon.

It may be too much to hope that the Murray Arts Council can help the county grow into an international center of music and arts production. But it certainly can help make the area a more attractive place to live and to do business. And it might just set some future hitmakers on their path to success.

The council, which is overseen by a 10-member board of directors, is open for anyone to join. There are different levels of membership ranging from $10 for a student to $500 for individuals, and from $250 to $5,000 for businesses. More information is on the council’s website, murray-arts.com.

If you can support the council with your time, your talent or your money, you’ll be helping to build a better Murray County and a better northwest Georgia.

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