2005 Governors Arts Awards
Cultural Access Leadership Award Recipient
Concord Community Music School
The Mission of the Concord Community Music School (CCMS) is to foster a sense of community through music by providing the fullest possible array of musical experiences for people of all ages, musical abilities, and backgrounds. The CCMS core values are artistic excellence, access for all and musical friendship. The CCMS’s mission of access, excellence and community guides the organization in decisions regarding the facility programming and faculty/staff recruiting and selection.
CCMS’s first capital campaign in 1991-94 was called “Opening the Doors to Excellence” because of the priority of making the building physically accessible through a redesign of the entry and installation of a Garavanta lift. Those priorities were continued through the second capital campaign in 1998-2001. Physical accessibility was emphasized in the design of the Community Room, the flexible set up of which is perfect for multiple wheelchairs. The integration of a City Park adjacent to the new building allows for parkside concerts in the warmer months. VSArts of New Hampshire has played an important part in the consultation of accessible design and programming.
CCMS has partnered with the Beech Street School, Manchester Housing Authority, Laconia Head Start, and the Laconia School District, which includes many immigrant and refugee children new to this country, and are responding with great success to the percussion, movement and chorus classes.
Access for people with low incomes has always been a priority at CCMS with most of their concerts free and financial aid available for in-house students. In their 1996 Strategic Planm CCMS designed the Music in the Community Initiative (MICI) to reach those who could not travel to CCMS because of distance, income, disability, or perception. MICI is now central to their organizational structure and they work with over 400 students weekly who would not otherwise be able to participate.
“Our daughter, Kate, took piano lessons [at CCMS] for four years. Kate’s low vision was an issue for reading music. Another challenge for her was a congenital condition that caused her fourth and fifth fingers on both hands to be abnormally short. However, her piano instructor willingly made adaptations for both limitations, and Kate was able to enjoy a music education just like any other child”, writes supporting nominator, Scott and Susan Hochgraf.
“In my work with adults with mental illness, I know how important feeling welcome and encouraged to participate means to the people I serve. The [CCMS] does this by creating a safe place for the members of the “Pillar House Blues Band” and singing opportunities for people with developmental disabilities,” writes supporting nominator, Page Cannon, Executive Director, Fellowship Housing Opportunities, Inc.
“Our design firm worked with [CCMS] over a five year period leading up to the opening of the new wing of classrooms and performance spaces. Throughout the long process of creating the building, [CCMS] made it clear that serving people with disabilities was to be a fundamental component of the school,” writes supporting nominator, Eric Palson, AIA, Sheerr McCrystal Palson Architecture, “A significant step was the school’s opening to the marginal and broken-down Fletcher Murphy Park. The Music School turned the building to open up and provide a stage to this public space. The neighborhood responded by opening up and refurbishing the park. This added feature involved a variance and additional city approvals beyond what was needed to open the doors of the school. But [CCMS] insisted that the stage on the outside of their building was the physical embodiment of their outreach mission statement.”