Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Consumers v. Producers

Three years ago I got an email from a young man who hoped to attend the CMAA's Sacred Music Colloquium. He was just finishing up his studies and had a job lined up. Alas, he didn’t have the funds required to get to the Colloquium. He was asking for a scholarship. At the time I told him that the scholarship fund was almost drained, but that I would gladly try to solicit some donations to make his attendance possible. I posted a note on this and that website in hopes that funds would come in.

The very first donation we received in response to my postings came as a complete surprise. It was from this young man himself. He reasoning was that if he would be willing to give of himself, it might set an example for others. Actually, I’m not even sure he reasoned to that extent…he was operating more on faith. It was a breathtaking gesture.

Donations did start coming in and he was able to make it to the Colloquium. He told me that in gratitude for what was given him, he would continue to remember the CMAA in future and donate whenever possible. Surely enough, he has kept his promise. I posted a note last week asking for donations, and the first to give was this same young man…now married, with a child or two, and working as a music director in a parish, doing what the Church is asking of all of us.

As a non-profit organization, any scholarship funds the CMAA are able to disburse consist entirely in donations of individuals. So far this year we have received a small handful of donations toward the Colloquium scholarship fund. But at the same time, we have received more requests for aid than ever before. Despite the generous nature of the few donations we have received, at present we will only be able to help three or four individuals with partial scholarships. Looking at it another way, this means we can help about 11% of the total number of people who have requested aid. You can do the math from there.

And here’s a little more Colloquium math: the Colloquium is not a money-maker. But somehow, through the grace of God, it has managed to break even every year. It requires a lot of ingenuity, time, grunt work, budget crunching, creative thinking, and fancy footwork. Everything an attendee experiences - including the time and efforts of an expert faculty and staff of between thirty and forty; the music packets; the schedules; the posters; the webpage; the water bottles, the bus drivers, the pencils; you name it – is offered at cost, or below. The CMAA is able to pull off the Colloquium because of thousands and thousands of hours of selfless efforts of all kinds, not the least of which are faculty honoraria that fall far, far below any industry standard.

If it is so hard to pull off, why do we keep doing it? Because it the major part of the CMAA mission. And because the truth, beauty and fellowship we all find at the Colloquium inspire us to see that we are not alone in our efforts to do what matters most Vis a vis the liturgy…despite what real life might feel like at times.

The young man I told you about at the outset of this post made up his mind not to be part of the problem. He continues to take active steps from which we all benefit. I am asking you to try to see yourself in the same way…not as a consumer, but as a producer of the solution.

Make a donation via Pay Pal to treasurer@musicasacra.com; or mail a check to CMAA Programs; 166 North Gay St. #19, Auburn, AL 36830. All donations are tax-deductible.