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Brookhaven Town Council on the Arts (1965)

Municipal music program (1966–1968)

The following proposal was funded for two full summer seasons of weekend concerts where more than 10,000 people filled the Bald Hill Ski Bowl (now Independence Hill and amphitheatre) to sit on the grass and listen to the fully professional Brookhaven Symphony Orchestra and on alternate weekends Jazz by an all-star lineup of Long Island alumni of the Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong big bands. The musicians were all paid uniion “scale” through the largest grant ever made by the Music Performance Trust Fund to that time. 

Recognizing that the arts require municipal support because they are essential to the ornament and happiness of human life and the prosperity of the State, the Town of Brookhaven has established a Council on the Arts

  • recommending ways and means to develop the cultural resources of the Tawn of Brookhaven
  • encouraging private initiative in the arts
  • obtaining the assistance of Federal State and other governmental agencies, to foster the artistic and cultural efforts of the community
  • fostering creative activity, maintaining high standards of perf ormance, and increasing opportunities in the arts
  • developing greater appreciation and enjoyment of the arts throughout Long Island, awakening among the residents an awareness that men and women need the arts to remind them of who they are and what they can become

· The Town of Brookhaven is concerned with the professional area of artistic activity particularly in the field of symphonic music. Vital aa amateur symphony orchestras are to our cultural health, the fact remains that it is on the professional artist that ultimate respon­sibility for the highest level of creative output and performing skill rests.

At the present time in the Town of Brookhaven, professional musical activity does not exist on an organized level. however, amateur musical productions abound. The North Shore Chorus and Symphony Orchestra present such ambitious works as the Verdi “Requiem” and Mendelsohn’s “Elijah,” while the Suffolk Symphony and other choral groups present programs of light classics. Most of these orchestras utilize the services of professional musicians who are residents of the area and who must make their living with “day jobs” in teaching and industry. No one can produce great art on a part time basis while driving a taxicab, or working in a factory to support their families.

The first concern of the Town in this government program is to find a way to put its musicians, actors, dancers, and other performing artists to work on a full time sustaining basis. A recent survey has shown that more than fifty professional musicians, members of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians reside in the Town of Brookhaven with hundreds more in Suffolk and Nassau County. Most have never performed professionally in any program presented in the Town of Brookhaven, although some lend their talents to the amateur productions.

The Town of Brookhaven intends to establish a permanent professional chamber orchestra and concert band, employing a total of fifty professional musicians each, with a weekly rehearsal schedule and between twenty and twenty­ five concerts annually. Some of these concerts will be in conjunction with programs presented by the Town’s amateur choral groups, augmented by pro­fesional soloists. The Town also intends to develop a program of Saturday young people’s concerts in conjunction with the public school system to develop music appreciation among even the youngest children.

The Town is providing a Symphonic Music Shell for outdoor concerts and developing facilities for the proper presentation of concerts indoors during the winter months. A copy of the budget indicates the extent of the Town’s committment to the support of prof essional musical activity in the Town of Brookhaven. The Town is seeking assistance on a matching basis from the Music Per­formance Trust Fund of the Reccording Industry and New York Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada as well as and additional help from private sources, the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Council on the Arts.

This effort by the Town of Brookhaven represents the only effort in the suburban metropolitan area to develop local professional musical talent at the present time. It represents, in our dizzy computerized age, a municipal effort to enhance “What it is we have as human beings, and conserve what has been left to us. Athough it is so easy to sit back and accumulate an endless string of evenings before the television set without wondering what it is all for, it would be profoundly disappointing if we found that the only comfort of our civilization was watching what we once were rather than what we can become.