Victoria-born, 16-time Grammy winning musician David Foster has added his voice to the chorus of community members calling on the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) not to make its proposed music program cuts.
In a letter penned to the district and minister of education May 7, Foster said if it wasn’t for the music education he received at Mount Douglas Secondary School his career trajectory would likely be quite different.
In its original budget draft, the district proposed cutting $1.5 million from elementary and middle school music programs, eliminating all of them except a Grade 8 band class. But, following weeks of protests and feedback, the board decided to reduce the cut to $1 million allowing for band in Grades 6 to 8. Choir and strings programs remain on the chopping block.
Music, Foster said, is the great equalizer and all children, regardless of family income, should have access to it.
“Music is one of the most thoughtful and reflective forms of creative expression, and it should be available to everyone,” he wrote.
And, he added, music classes do far more than teach students an instrument.
“Study after study have shown the benefits of music to aid in academic performance, to relieve stress and anxiety, and to build community,” Foster wrote. “These advantages should be valued and preserved, not disregarded and cast aside during a global pandemic.”
An accompanying letter from Victoria resident and CEO of the David Foster Foundation, Mike Ravenhill, mirrored Foster’s thoughts.
“While I understand the importance of fiscal responsibility and balancing a budget, I believe that there are creative ways to reconcile finances without making cuts that would so directly target our future generations of doers and thinkers,” Ravenhill wrote.
|Victoria-born musician Bryce Dane Soderberg took to Instagram Monday to call out the Greater Victoria School District on its proposed cuts to elementary and middle school music programs. (Bryce Dane Soderberg/Instagram)|
Foster is the second Victoria-born musician to oppose the cuts. In April, Lifehouse vocalist and bassist Bryce Dane Soderberg posted to Instagram also expressing his dismay around the proposed budget.
“I hope that the Victoria school system will reconsider and CONSIDER the future of the children they claim to ‘serve and support to reach their full potential,” he wrote then.
Foster finished his letter with a similar call.
“I urge you to reconsider these devastating cuts. Our children are depending upon you to do the right thing.”
The board has until the end of June to submit a completed version of its budget to the province.
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