NOVEMBER 11, 1939
NEW YORK, Friday—The Florida State Music Teachers Association has a new and novel idea. Like all citizens of Florida, they feel that no one should be deprived of spending some part of the year in that state. They have started out, therefore, to get 20,000 professional musicians to become members of a club. The idea is that this "Musicians Club of America" will be maintained for the benefit of professional musicians.
Any surplus beyond expenses remaining in the club treasury will be used to support club members who have reached the age of seventy years and who have no other means of support. It will also go toward providing a congenial home for retired musicians who may not be in need and who wish to pay something for their support, but cannot afford, perhaps, to be in such a pleasant climate or in as comfortable surroundings as this club membership will give them.
Miss Bertha Foster, who started this whole idea, is head of the conservatory of music at the University of Miami, at Coral Gables, Florida. She was not content, however, just to have an idea, she went to work and apparently is going to be rewarded by seeing it bear fruit.
I know of a number of other places which have been established to give artists an opportunity to live comfortably with as little anxiety and cost to themselves as possible. The MacDowell Foundation in New Hampshire, is one such place, and "Yaddo" established by the late Mrs. George Foster Peabody on her estate at Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is another. I have always felt that those connected with these institutions must obtain a great joy in the contacts with the various artists and also have a personal pride in their creative work.
I have been receiving of late a number of appeals begging that I assist artists who are no longer young. Others beg that I try to obtain a hearing of some kind for some young artist who has not yet had a chance to become known to the public. Of course, when the arts flourished in the old days, it was sufficient for an artist to have a rich patron and then to develop under the protection of his important sponsor. All nobles had their pet artists in many lines who painted pictures for them, wrote books and verses about them, or played music for their pleasure. Today, for the most part, this method of developing and protecting art has passed out of existence and I am wondering if the WPA art projects may not take their places.
Instead of one noble, it is now the people of the United States who give protection to artists and develop their own culture through their familiarity with the arts, which up to the past few years were a more or less closed book to them. I think it is safe to say that we have developed taste, discrimination and curiosity about the great painters and great artists generally in the world through these programs.