“A musical society where the joy of making music is an integral part of the soundtrack of life; a world in which future generations exercise their choice to passionately defend and promote the beauty and brilliance of the arts.”
By Lisa Morgan
“In every successful business…there is one budget line that never gets cut. It’s called ‘Product Development’ – and it’s the key to any company’s future growth. Music education is critical to the product development of this nation’s most important resource – our children.”
– John Sykes — President, VH1
I don’t think you’ll find many who will argue that the cuts to a school district’s music education programs are a sad affair. Some even recognize the influential and beneficial role music plays on the education process as a whole. So many children in our diverse community cannot afford educational opportunities outside of the public school environment and with cuts to such programs, will never experience their own musical potential and influence. As regretful as it is, what can anyone DO about it? Marquee Academy of Performing Arts in Palm Springs has provided an answer.
Blessed by the success of his 20 year old pool design and construction company, Architectural Blue, Mathew Naylor, President of the non-profit organization is paying it forward. Along with the help of Executive Director of Music Programs, Dena Prestininzi and a number of volunteers, he has founded a school for the arts that will provide music education and experience for children throughout the Coachella Valley despite financial hardships that may stand in the way.
Matthew is a born musician, starting with banging on the piano at the age of three and “letting my neighborhood know I was mad at my parents.” A graduate of the Grove in Los Angeles (the Jazz equivalent of the classically based Julliard) as a recording engineer, he went to school for music performance and recording. He has always been involved in music throughout the years playing anything he could get his hands on. With his experience and passion, this fledgling organization promises to be an incredible life experience for our valley’s children. Marquee will not only be providing education through their classes but also through experience with student performances and a weekly Thursday night youth jam. Students will also find inspiration through performances of well-known musicians.
A grand opening event is being scheduled for the fall coinciding with a performance of the award winning musical, Annie. Auditions are being held Thursdays, July 11th and 18th from 12 noon-3pm and 4pm-6pm. It will be an open call casting policy with all roles open, none are precast, and everyone 18 and under is encouraged to audition! Whether you are beginner, or have loads of experience, they want to see you. “All you need is to have the desire and the interest to perform and we will do the rest!”
The applications of students craving for the opportunity to pursue education in music can be heartbreaking to read. Without this organization, the dreams and aspirations of so many children would never be met. This being a non-profit, donor funded program, donations of any size make a huge difference to these potential troubadours.
Registration has begun and classes begin next Tuesday, July 16th. Currently there are 50 students enrolled, all of whom are on scholarship. “Tuition is based on a sliding scale; if their parents can’t afford the lessons the school provides the education and the instrument,” shared Matthew. “I had a vision 20 years ago that I wanted to have some kind of nonprofit school for kids because when I moved out here 20 years ago, I did teach privately, and started the Palm Springs children’s choir. I saw the need then. For the last year and a half we’ve been strategically planning the best way and method to make this happen. We knew that with music education taken out of the school system, there was no alternative for kids to learn. Part of the problems we see in society is that there is a lack of music education; it brings dedication, it brings ‘compadre’ (partnership) that you don’t get in a school setting without music.”
According to their mission statement, Marquee Academy of Performing Arts aims to provide an educational environment that fosters the artistic growth of its students, resourcing the support and involvement of local, regional and national artists and patrons of the arts. “Marquee will create an educational environment that fosters the artistic, intellectual, and personal growth of its students and prepares them to embark on successful careers and productive lives as artists and citizens. We will ensure all who wish to learn the art and skill of creating music have the opportunity to pursue their dream, and ensure that financial considerations or prior musical training are not a deterrent to their enrollment. We will uphold a commitment to the diversity of our community by fostering an environment that is inclusive, supportive, and welcoming to all. Marquee is committed to taking an active role in the community, by providing exemplary arts education programs and a performance venue, encouraging students to serve as advocates for the arts in society.”
In their company overview, they state, “Marquee Academy of Performing Arts (MAPA) is here to enrich and change our community through music, affecting people of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life. We are on a mission to transform lives through music.” After talking to Matthew about this much needed program, I am convinced our entire valley will benefit from this organization. “MAPA is dedicated to bringing all aspects of the musical experience to our community. Students will be surrounded by a supportive circle of artists, who have a love and knowledge of the arts and most importantly, a deep desire to teach their craft to the next generation.”
Marquee Academy of the Performing Arts is located at 441 South Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262. For more information on registration, auditions, and performances or how to make a donation, go to their web site www.marqueearts.org or check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MarqueePerformingArts. You can also call them at (760) 778-8000.