A few weeks ago a colleague at the local arts agency asked me to participate in a grant panel for a program that awards support to local non-profits and state partners. I spent most of Monday reading grants and most of Tuesday sitting on the panel. The other panelists were a diverse group of artistic and cultural personalities from various institutions in Tallahassee. We saw some truly innovative proposals and most everyone received the promise of some funding. However, the city does not yet know how much the allocation will be for this program.
Moreover, in the middle of the day we got an update from someone at the state level saying no, the divisions of Historic Preservation and Cultural Affairs will not be cut entirely . . . they will only have their funding drastically reduced. What the hell happened to state of the arts? Programs like that started because Florida had a reputation for funneling a healthy level of funding into artistic and cultural programs. I guess we’ve got to suck it up to pay for Charlie’s tax cut. I think I’ll put that cash together with my economic stimulus package and put it in a savings account so that when I have kids I can pay someone to teach them music and art privately. At this rate I’ll have to, because by that time there won’t be any state funding left for non-profits and the arts will have been gouged out of the public schools, too. Thanks, Chuck.
I’ve got three great reasons to celebrate musicology today:
#1: My Colleagues
This weekend my university’s College of Music hosted a joint regional conference between the Society for Ethnomusicology and the American Musicological Society. Many members of our local professional organization, the FSU Society for Musicology, cooperated to tackle all of the logistics of hosting about 150 musicologists from the American Southeast. Although I’m the president of this little organization, I feel as though my job leading up to this was incredibly easy. Yes I had to do some work, send some e-mails, put some press together, and carry a few heavy things. Yes it involved a 15-hour Friday in the middle of a week in which I was moving into my new house, but these folks are fantastic. I have the greatest colleagues in the world. We work too much, we get paid too little, and we have unreasonably high standards, but we always take care of our own.
We kicked the conference off this weekend with a guest lecture by Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University, Dr. Aaron Fox. His lecture on “Country Music’s Late Modern Period” also gave us an interesting perspective on Ethnomusicology’s Late Modern Period. Fox’s delivery was confidently casual, and the next morning I enjoyed an equally casual breakfast with him as we talked over some more personal career things. During the morning African music workshop that I ran with my esteemed colleague and dear friend Kafumbe, I re-connected with some other professors whom I really respect. The workshop only enhanced my respect for these folks, as it gave me an opportunity to observe that these folks can back up their good scholarship with solid musicianship. But it was that evening that really reminded me how truly fortunate I am to be surrounded by great mentors. The keynote lecturer centered his talk around making our research really mean something in the lives of our field colleagues. It was preceded by the warmest introduction from one of his colleagues, an example that left no doubt about why I enjoy such great professional relationships. Olsen’s remarks left the crowd feeling inspired, and we thanked him for that and his thirty-five years of service with a lengthy standing ovation. I’ve never seen that happen after a lecture . . . ever. It was clearly well deserved, and we then had the privilege of moving on to a reception celebrating the careers of two of our retiring faculty members. One was the keynote lecturer, the other our area coordinator. The whole thing left me feeling like taking care of our own moves far beyond making sure students’ needs are met. Olsen and KP, you will be dearly missed.
#3: Newfound support
Well, after numerous grant applications, I was not surprised at the beginning of this week to receive a rejection letter on one of the larger fieldwork grants I’ve applied for. It happens, and it’s why you don’t count on any grant funding as a sure thing. But when I heard I’d been denied another local grant through the FSU College of Music after being selected as the finalist from the Musicology area, I was a bit more disappointed. One panelist reviewing that grant had straight out told me that he ranked my proposal at the top, and another strongly hinted at it. A few days later, I let go of my disappointment and embraced a new source of support. I had all but forgotten that I applied for a new grant through the FSU Office of Graduate Studies. This week, I was awarded a generous stipend and a tuition waiver for the next academic year to embark on a one-year field research endeavor. With this community of scholars and mentors behind me, I move forward confident that I’ll have all the professional support I need to make the most of this fantastic opportunity.