Testimony of Marc Eisbenberg at the Budget Hearing April 26, 2012

I’m Marc Eisenberg, the Executive Director of the Washington Bach Consort. Thank you for your time today.

Failing to restore funding to the Commission on Arts & Humanities will prohibit our “Bach in Time” program from reaching DC Public School third graders from participating in our award winning introduction to classical music. Continuing to fail to fund musical education to the young students from Ward 7 and 8 is unacceptable.

The mission of “Bach in Time” is to make Baroque music (and in particular the music of J.S. Bach) accessible to young school children through an engaging and instructive program that combines live musical performance with a multi-media stage production. The performances are supplemented with classroom materials available to the teachers for use before and after the performance. Our efforts are consistent with District of Columbia Arts Education General Music Standards programs. The performances are in two weeks at the Sitar Center in Adams Morgan (Ward 1). Over the last three years this program has doubled the number of students it serves each year. At the same time funding has been drying up. WBC is increasingly reliant on grants from the Commission on Arts & Humanities to reach these 1300 DC Public School third graders.

Since 2009 funding from the DC Commission on Arts & Humanities has been cut from $14 million to $4 million, last year National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs Program, which gave money to DC’s 25 largest arts groups, went from $9.5 million to $2 million. This is a cut from $23 million to $6 million. Arts organizations like mine have already been through the fire.  The Bach Consort is 34 years old, is known as the nation’s premiere Baroque orchestra. Despite our being known as a jewel of DC, we have a tough time just paying the bills.

The arts are at the center of a ripple effect of good things— from improving neighborhoods to helping educate our children. We urge you to reconsider the past budget cuts to the arts and restore the funding to the fourteen million dollar level it was in 2009. This will allow us to deliver the “Bach in Time” program to all of DC’s third grade students.

Thank you.

Marc Eisenberg

Executive Director

Washington Bach Consort