The Project: Short on Money, Long on Ideas and Energy Print
Music - Feature Stories
Tuesday, 11 June 2002 18:00
The group’s first fundraiser brought in $126, and its organizers thought that was a pretty good number. And relatively speaking, it is. After all, the group’s operating expenses to this point have totaled $6. 50 for 10 pairs of drumsticks. “It’s turning out to be a very minimal amount of money,” said Brandon Meek.

The project is The Project, and that definitive-sounding name comes with a daunting goal: to create an organization that will allow “kids to record their music for free,” said Meek, the group’s secretary and founder. The Project is also holding workshops every Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Davenport Public Library for young musicians to collaborate with other players and stretch their creative muscles. The workshops are scheduled to continue through September.

Those two aims might seem to have little to do with each other, but Meek said the ultimate goal of the project is to be a support network that fosters a self-sustaining music community – that is, a place where musicians can make a living practicing their art. Helping artists record their music cheaply obviously works toward that, and Meek said the workshops also help. At the weekly sessions, children learn that “musician” isn’t a dirty word when it comes to career ambitions.

That’s lofty stuff, and while The Project has been strictly seat-of-its-pants in its infancy, Meek said the organization eventually hopes to receive grants so it might be able to make its bigger dreams a reality.

But a first step is getting not-for-profit status from the federal government, and that takes some money – $150. And while the first fundraiser was considered a success, it didn’t allow The Project to file its application. A second fundraiser is slated for June 22 at the Chai Café in Moline and will feature at least 10 bands.

If the money hasn’t exactly been flowing, ideas are. The energy level has been high, and Meek said new possibilities come fast and furious. This week, organizers began exploring the idea of a radio station. By the end of the summer, The Project hopes to be producing and distributing CDs. “The area musicians are so excited about this,” Meek said. “It really surprised us how quick the response has been.”

The response has been generous as well as quick. The Chai has not charged The Project for use of its space for fundraisers, and the bands have also donated their time.

Eventually, the project hopes to establish a physical presence in the form of an office. “We’re still working out of my apartment,” Meek said. A baby-grand piano was donated to the organization, and Meek said it plans to auction it off to provide seed money for an office.

Right now, though, the biggest part of The Project is the weekly workshop for kids, which has been drawing about a dozen each session. When asked what ages participate, Meek at first said 9 to 17, but he quickly corrected himself. “We actually have a 2-year-old down there who can keep a rhythm.” he said. “The kids are having a lot of fu.” Two weeks ago, all the kids got drumsticks.

No matter what happens, though, Meek said that the weekly workshops will continue. While these sessions for kids might not fulfill all the ambitions of The Project, there are far less noble pursuits than giving children a safe, creative musical outlet.

For more information on The Project, call (563)323-4695 or visit the Web site (http://theproject.sytes.net).
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