With the goal of finding a local healthy arts and music community initiative, I went looking for local programs because there has been at least one in every city I have lived, and because I am personally more interested in and committed to music than most other cultural activities. Unfortunately, I was not able to find an arts and music-centered community-based organization. There are less than a handful of non-profits, like the Springer Arts House for drama and musical theatre as well as the River Arts Center for traveling musical acts. There are commercial chain businesses that specialize in music instruction, whether they be audio production or music instruction, and there is a music program in every public school in the local city and county. However, there are no community organizations focusing on alternative (read: non-mainstream) arts and music. Such an initiative should focus on the community that is not served by the conventional. It would serve political minorities and youth interested in artistic and musical self-expression that no outlet other than the above, outside of public schools, offers. Unfortunately, even the public schools are focused on conventional musical expression. That isn’t enough.
How would I create a healthy communities’ arts and music initiative? It could not be a one-person effort. It would require the efforts of a myriad of individuals, neighborhood groups, community groups, some local government participation and even some local businesses. Accordingly, this paper will be organized into the following sections: Determining health indicators, specific steps, people that should be involved, and what information will be needed prior to beginning such an initiative. While there are exceptional community toolkits available, some that I will consult for supporting ideas, the bulk of this healthy community arts and music initiative will be supported by the real-world asset analysis of Kretzmann & McKnight (1993) to conduct an asset-based assessment, rather than a needs assessments. Specifically, it is necessary to determine what is already available in the community, rather than operate from a disadvantaged viewpoint of what is needed and already lacking.