Catholic Schools not excluded from State House holiday, says RISCA
This from Randy Rosenbaum of the Rhode Island Council on the Arts:
COUNCIL MEMBERS AND RISCA STAFF:
Some of you may be aware that Bishop Tobin, a guest on the John DiPetro show this morning on WPRO, spoke out on his perception that Catholic schools had been excluded from the holiday concert series at the State House. This, combined with the controversy about the “holiday tree” at the State House, has put us in the middle of a religious war of sorts.
I’m trying to avoid commenting on TV or radio about this issue (that’s always a losing proposition), but I did respond to an email and sent the following statement to the editor of the Rhode Island Catholic, a Diocesan newspaper, and I wanted to share it with you so you can better understand the Arts Council’s actions. As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments.
The Holiday Concert Series at the State House has been operation since 2001. In the first years of operation we sent notices to music educators through their teacher association, and got a small number of schools involved. As the series got more popular we sent out a few press releases to get other schools involved, but the releases either didn’t get printed or didn’t result in attracting other schools. Then we started to send direct emails to Superintendents and school principals, from a list we obtained from the State Dept of Education website, in addition to the past participants in this program. We asked the Superintendents and principals to forward our email to music educators in their district (or school). I thought we were working from a list of all schools, and should have realized the list didn’t include religious schools.
That said, three Catholic schools have regularly participated in this performance series: Bishop Hendricken High School; LaSalle Academy; and San Miguel School. This year we did not get a response from LaSalle or San Miguel when invitations went out in early September. With Bishop Hendricken, we organized a full day of performances for them – an opportunity to feature their Concert Band, their Symphonic Wind Ensemble and their Academy Jazz Band. We confirmed their attendance by email on October 13th, and immediately got an email back agreeing to a full day of performances for Bishop Hendricken (10am, 11am and noon on December 1). On November 1, just as we had confirmed the final schedule, we received an email from their director, Jarrod Gorman, apologizing for the late notice and informing us that none of the ensembles would be able to perform this year due to scheduling conflicts. By that point there were no other dates available for them. We promised to work something out for next year.
As you probably know, Ed Bastia from the Diocese Catholic School Office and I were in touch on this issue on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. As I said to him, “It’s certainly true that we have more schools interested in performing than we have space to include them (we’ve had to turn away some schools), but I do welcome your help reaching out to Catholic schools. This is the first time I’ve been approached by the Diocese on this issue, but I agree with your interest in being part of this ongoing series and will certainly assist in any way I can.”