By Joan Slowey Dellett ~
Maybe you’ve seen the shirt as you strolled on the boardwalk. Or at a local venue listening to your favorite local musician. The black tees proclaiming Music Saved Asbury Park were dubbed the must have t-shirt of this past summer by the Asbury Park Press. And maybe you said to yourself, “I wonder where those shirts came from?”
Those tee shirts are just one way the Asbury Park Music Foundation is raising awareness and funds for their mission – providing music-based programs, events and resources that generate opportunities for local youth, artists and the community to succeed and build on Asbury Park’s legacy as a thriving, music-rich city by the sea.
In 2011, the Smithsonian Institution selected Asbury Park as the first host city of its traveling musical heritage exhibit. This event marked a year-long celebration of Asbury Park’s musical heritage. A group of dedicated volunteers recognized the need to sustain that celebration and the Asbury Park Music Foundation was created with the idea of preserving, exhibiting and promoting Asbury Park’s rich musical heritage – past, present and future – and contributing to the city’s revitalization by cementing Asbury Park as a musical destination.
As the city’s renaissance took hold, the Board of Directors recognized a need for change in direction and made the decision to focus on the future of music in Asbury Park by creating a Youth Initiative Program entitled “Music Saved My Life”, which was based on the need for a music education program at the Hope Academy Charter School and a hope of engaging the West Side of Asbury Park, often forgotten in the town’s renewal. Partnering with Lakehouse Music Academy, the “Music Saved My Life” umbrella program focused on funding music education in Asbury Park schools. This quickly led to after school programs at the Hip Hop Institute at the Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth County and Mt. Carmel. Supported by grants, individual donors and corporate sponsorships, the APMF supports youth music programs by providing programs, instruction, instruments, performance opportunities and a summer music camp. The APMF also works closely with the Lakehouse Music Academy to provide scholarships to budding musicians providing not only music instruction but also life skills instruction as the students learn the responsibility of being part of a community.
The Asbury Park Music Foundation also takes instrument donations of any kind except the piano. Instruments can be working or in need of work. The objective is to bestow these instruments to students who cannot afford the cost of instruments or music programs. Instruments that cannot be placed are auctioned off in support of the program.
In addition to funding music programs for youths, the APMF also sponsors music events music lovers of all ages. During the warmer months, they support the Music Mondays at Springwood Park, Asbury Park Live every Wednesdays on the AP boardwalk and the Asbury Park Concert Band on Thursdays also on the boardwalk.
The Music Foundation is always looking for new, innovative ways grow their resources. Local bands can rent out the Foundation’s studio space for showcases and plans are in the works for a monthly coffee-house with local musicians and exclusive donor events.
The Asbury Park Music Foundation depends on the people in the community that recognize the importance of a life that embraces all that music has to give and welcomes support in all forms, whether monetary, instrument donation, corporate sponsorships or volunteers. For more information on their programs and how you can help support the “Music Saved My Life” program, visit http://asburyparkmusiclives.org/ .