When I arrived at work this morning, The Fitzgerald Performing Arts Center stage was already busy. Filled with 110 chairs and 52 music stands, the venue is getting ready for a middle school band concert. These students have spent the last few months rehearsing and practicing. The band teachers have carefully chosen the music to perform, and they are counting on everyone to be on time, dressed in the right uniform and ready to play their best. These students have spent the last few months rehearsing and practicing at school and at home. Their parents have endured the sounds of practice, and at times, they have probably wondered if they had the tenacity to listen until it started to sound like music. Tonight, we see the work pay off!

A concert is a celebration of hard work, the reward of practice and teamwork. However, a concert is so much more when we examine the process. It takes guts, resilience, initiative and tenacity (GRIT) to participate in the performing arts regardless of age. The “road to the concert” becomes a part of a child’s development as they learn to work every day toward a common goal; with music, it takes a village, and everyone counts. The “road” leads to a family celebration of their success!

When we talk about a child’s essential needs, we often think of Arts as a luxury, but is it really a luxury to give our children opportunities to sing, dance, write, act or create? As we embark on a new year, we are joining the movement to declare that “Arts Are Essential” to every child.

We are having a Friends Raiser New Year’s Weekend at The Fitzgerald Performing Arts Center on Dec. 29 at 7:00 pm. We are bringing a national touring show, The Little Merman, the Ultimate Disney Tribute Band, to celebrate our New Year campaign to support Arts Education in our community schools. Tickets for this show are $25.00 but only $5.00 for children! We are joining the National Coalition for Arts Standard in declaring our support for Arts Education. We want to put Florida on the map for supporting the Arts Are Education pledge. Won’t you join us? You can sign the Arts Are Education pledge at https://www.artsareeducation.org/sign-the-pledge or sign the pledge at the show on Dec. 29.