In Wednesday’s (7/29) Oregonian (Portland), David Stabler writes, “The drums have gone quiet. The gongs no longer shimmer. The bells go unchimed. The instruments that kids in small towns around Oregon used to hit, rub and scrape as part of the Oregon Symphony’s award-winning outreach effort went quiet this summer. Another victim of the economy. The Roseburg-based Ford Family Foundation, the program’s primary funder, suffered losses to its endowment and declined to continue paying the program’s $150,000 annual cost, said Norm Smith, the foundation’s president. … The program, officially called the Community Music Partnership, presented 300 to 350 musical activities over two years and cost the communities nothing. Local arts groups began to talk to one another. Teachers learned how to bring music into their classrooms. Mayors chatted about the arts with parents and kids. Concerts by small groups of Oregon Symphony musicians, as well as the full orchestra, filled gyms and community centers. … In 2005, the League of American Orchestras recognized the program with its MetLife Award for Excellence in Community Engagement. But after the Ford Family Foundation suffered a 33 percent decline in its endowment, it had to pull back. … Smith said he wouldn’t rule out a future role in the program. Maybe those drums won’t stay silent."

Posted July 29, 2009