For the second year in a row, the Curb Creative Connection (CCC) is convening students from the 14 institutions of higher education that have benefitted from the Mike Curb Family Foundation’s support of academic programs in music business and creative industries. I’ve tagged along to this year’s CCC as a faculty representative in the run-up to the launch of our Curb MA in Creative Enterprise and Cultural Leadership* next fall. Curb beneficiaries run the gamut from community colleges through graduate programs and span the country from Tennessee all the way west to Hawaii.
Host Jim Ed Norman (of Curb Records and Leadership Music) and his team have put together a packed schedule of activities for the diverse group of 48 students. As I write, the students are still, at 9:30pm, working on a case study exercise after having participated in an icebreaker, been regaled by songwriter L. Russell Brown (“Tie a Yellow Ribbon” among others) and Nashville historian Bob Oermann, and taken a First Amendment quiz delivered with great humor by Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center and former editor-in-chief of USA Today.
Oermann’s lecture on the history of Nashville was timed fortuitously (for me) to coincide with the discussion of cultural heritage rights in my arts policy class this week. He recounted the founding of Fisk University in 1866 to educate newly freed slaves and the subsequent founding in 1871 of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, who carried what we now call Negro sprituals up and down the country’s rivers from northern New York south to New Orleans weaving them into the cultural fabric of the entire nation. (The photo is of the Fisk Jubilee Singers in 1882. They are, from left to right, Patti Malone, George E. Barrett, Mattie L. Lawrence, C.W. Payne, Ella Shepard (seated), F.J. Loudin, Maggie L. Porter (seated), B.W. Thomas, and Mabel R. Lewis (seated).
Paulson’s quiz was a startling reminder of how much mis-information — or downright ignorance — about the first amendment is circulating out there. He relayed that only 4% of Americans know what the five freedoms guaranteed by the first amendment are. (If you can’t recall them all, they are: speech, religion, petition, assembly, and press.)
Russell Brown offered some sage advice to the students, dropping quotable quotes one after another, often about the relationship between art and money. Here are a few:
Make great music. Money is only a byproduct of it.
Don’t follow the market and try to be like everyone else. Just try to be great.
Talent is critical but it’s not as important as tenacity.
Given my interest in learning through failure (or more positively stated, experimentation), I particularly appreciated this one:
The person who can stand the most rejection will have the greatest success.
It was a jam-packed schedule and loads of fun! Tomorrow will include studio tours, interviews, activities, and dinner at BB King’s.
*You’ll be reading more about this new program here on Creative Infrastructure (unofficially) and on the Herberger Institute site (officially) as the program develops.