2015 Proposal: Arts on the Edge

Name of Nonprofit Organization: Arts on the Edge

Project: Hiland Mountain Correctional Center Women’s String Orchestra

 Your Name: Anna Andrews

 Short Project Description:

“This is the only fun thing I have done that wasn’t illegal. Playing bass has changed my life for the better.”

Powerful words from a member of the Hiland Orchestra. Changing lives is what it is all about.   Started in 2003 with 8 members, the orchestra has grown to 30 with an annual December concert that attracts a large and enthusiastic audience.

The Big Why:

When a former Education Director at Hiland (who was looking for programs for the women there) and her friend ( who was looking for a venue to play her cello) got together one day, an idea started and the orchestra was born.  For many of the orchestra members, the Saturday rehearsal time gives them something positive on which to focus and is a break from the regimentation of their days.  Playing music with others gives them a new  challenge and  identity.  Since it takes time to learn to play a string instrument, only women with long sentences are eligible to join the orchestra and there are guidelines that they follow.  Many of the skills learned while playing in the orchestra are taken with the women when they leave Hiland.

After one of the orchestra’s violists was release in 2012, she elected to return to Hiland each Saturday to rehearse with the group and participate in the next concert as a way to  support to the orchestra.  She stated:  “Music is so transcending.  Music is just like poetry.”

The Bottom Line:

Teaching expenses for the orchestra are $1400/month.

By granting a month’s expenses, we could support this valuable community program and help ensure its continuation.

A personal note: I have been attending these concerts for several years and have found them to be a powerful (and fun) experience.  For the last 2 years I have been able to play with the women in the orchestra through a collaboration with the Hiland Orchestra and the Society of Strings (a group of adult string players).  In the spring, members of both groups get together to play music side by side and then share food and stories.  I suspect each of us walks away from this experience having learned something new.   I know I have.

Website : http://artsontheedge.org/