La Mesa Resident Wins $12,500 for SDSU's Heartpower Performances

The $12,500 NEA Arts Work grant will bring music to at risk communities.

Marian Liebowitz. Courtesy photo.
Marian Liebowitz. Courtesy photo.

The National Endowment for the Arts recently awarded SDSU’s Heartpower Performances a $12,500 Art Works Grant to fund its unique combination of music performances, classes and clinics for at-risk audiences throughout Southern California.

Led by School of Music and Dance Faculty member Marian Liebowitz, Heartpower Peformances is a career-training program for music majors, who serve as performers, teachers and role models to the at-risk populations including youth, individuals with mental illness, those in drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and other segments of the population not normally served by music organizations. 

The program underscores the importance of music as a vehicle to redirect energy toward positive change.

Art Works Grants support activities that make the arts more widely available, especially in areas where the arts can strengthen communities, and projects that extend to underserved populations -- those limited by geography, ethnicity, economics or disability. 

Since 2010, Heartpower has presented over 975 performances, clinics, and workshops to upwards of 90,000 audience members who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to attend a concert or receive music education.

“These are people who typically cannot get to concerts, but benefit from music being brought to them in their environment” explains Marian Liebowitz. “We start by exposing them to a wide variety of music genres, including classical, jazz and pop.  Enrichment comes from offering a series of concerts, not just a one-time performance.  We also provide participatory music, such as our Veterans Choir Project.”

The student performers are enriched as well, receiving training specific to their audiences and important experience to bolster their future careers.

Heartpower Performances Partners with local organizations

Each year, new organizational partnerships develop with organizations such as the Veterans Village San Diego, Breaking Cycles, a program of the San Diego County Juvenile Justice System, Reflections Central Probationary Day School, Scripps Healthcare System and the San Diego County and City Libraries.

In 2013, Heartpower partnered with the Veterans Module of the Vista Detention Center.  The Veterans Module is based on similar successful programs at jails in other large cities where grouping veterans together improves their chances for reintegration into society.  Most of the vets have a disability and have struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and mental health problems. Heartpower presents monthly concerts to the module, and has implemented a weekly choir class taught by SDSU undergraduate voice major Megan Winslow.

“My time at the Vista Detention Center has been extremely rewarding for both the inmates and myself,” states Winslow.  “Seeing them put effort and passion into music is an astounding thing to watch especially given their circumstances.  I look forward to seeing them every Wednesday night because while working with them I'm able to forget all of the stresses I have going on in my day the moment I step into the jail. When I told them that, they seemed thrilled and agreed that our Wednesday nights are a time of not only musical stimulation, but of relief and happiness.”

New in 2014 is a partnership with The Fred Finch Youth Center, a residential facility for teens who have developmental disabilities concurrent with a mental health diagnosis.

Continued NEA Support

Heartpower Performances has won successive NEA grants for San Diego State University even as the grant title and specifications have evolved each year. Award amounts have ranged from $10,000-$15,000 and have served as a match to other important grants and donations.

For more information, follow Heartpower Performances on their Facebook page.


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