Franz Gets Frank About Education, Funding


Several discussions with Boise Philharmonic Music Director Robert Franz led to this week's main feature on innovations in arts funding.

Boise Philharmonic works hard to stay connected to its audiences, and for Franz those connections begin very early—with grade school students. He has long been a proponent of music education in schools and promotes a number of outreach and in-house programs with schools around the state—but not because he is grooming them to someday become patrons of his organization. Franz works with kids because he knows that studying classical music "makes a unique and vital impact on how the brain develops in children."

"It's a common misperception that orchestras perform concerts for children to mainly ensure audiences for the future. The reality for me is really quite different," Franz said. "Our work in this realm is vibrant, important and immediate. If we do our job properly, students will become better learners, more engaged citizens and generally more successful."

In March, Franz gave testimony before the Idaho House Education Committee, outlining studies he has done showing that sending musicians into schools for long-term residencies helps in that regard. Afterward, he explained that working with Idaho legislators is a vital part of continuing that practice.

"We want to get involved with the legislators in Idaho to see whether there are funding sources—not necessarily public but private funding sources—that would enable us to set up satellites with small groups of musicians," Franz said.

After he gave his testimony, one legislator from Eastern Idaho asked Franz, “Well, what do we have to do to get small groups into our schools? How can we up this type of thing?” Franz was elated.

"[We] started vibrating because we realized this is an opportunity for us to reach out to the state, which is what our goal is as an organization. That’s our path for growth: Hire more full-time musicians that we train ... and then send them out into the state and infiltrate. I want [Committee Chairman Rep.] Bob Nonini and our committee to be like, 'We remember talking about this. Maybe we should have [Franz] back and ask him specifically about this aspect.' I want to be a resource. And I think Bob views me/us that way. I manage the largest music organization in the state of Idaho."

Read more about Franz's studies on how classical music helps young brains develop, how organizations like Boise Philharmonic and Trey McIntyre Project stay connected to their audiences and their donors, and how the city and state government continuously work to maintain funding to arts organizations in tomorrow's issue of Boise Weekly.