Grammy Education News: The GRAMMY Foundation Changes Name to GRAMMY Museum, Programming Expands

Mike Lawson • • March 2, 2018

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Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I am a 20+ year voting member of the Recording Academy, former member of the Board of Trustees and San Francisco Chapter Governor/Officer, as well as having previously served on multiple committees during my time of service to the organization.

In April 2017, the GRAMMY Foundation merged with the GRAMMY Museum and assumed the museum’s name. The GRAMMY Foundation, (now re-branded as the GRAMMY Museum) has been exhibiting at music educators shows across the U.S. for years, however, the exhibit booth now says, “GRAMMY Museum.”

Teachers visiting the various “MEA” and related shows are inundated with travel destination exhibits, from theme parks to Graceland, to international trips and tour planners offering domestic and even exotic travel for their music students. And SBO readers will notice that close to half of our advertisers are destination/travel companies. Travel is a big industry for the music education market.

This new branding of the organization’s tradeshow exhibit at the shows I attended was being easily confused with a travel destination-only opportunity, and understandably so. While visiting with representatives of the newly-merged entities in various city/show locations, I saw multiple teachers approach the exhibit/reps somewhat confused, as the name “museum” on its face does typically imply a destination/location, as opposed to the “foundation” name seeming to more represent a charitable wing of The Recording Academy, which managed, among other things, its educational programs. SBO reported on this last year when the change happened, but clearly, more music educators need to be reminded of the name change and merger, and what it means to them.

I witnessed the staff do an excellent job, explaining to the confused teachers that the foundation’s previous programs were still in place, it is also a destination, and then they went about promoting entries to the Music Educator Award. However, time spent explaining the merger, re-branding, and programs to teachers who thought this was solely a destination travel opportunity, was time not spent explaining all of the wonderful programs offered by the former foundation, and still offered by the museum post-merger.

I suspect some educators didn’t stop and inquire at all, thinking it was simply a place to go to learn about popular music, and not also a robust educational outreach program. Clearly, it is going to take some time to fully educate the educators.

So, why the merger? In an official statement, Neil Portnow, president/CEO of The Recording Academy, said, “Both the GRAMMY Museum and GRAMMY Foundation have done such truly remarkable work as individual organizations that we started to think about what we could achieve together. This integration will allow us to combine our resources and the expertise of our dedicated staffs to increase the impact of our shared vision: to cultivate a greater understanding of the history and cultural significance of music, inspire its appreciation, and advance its future.”

I spoke with GRAMMY Museum executive director, Scott Goldman, formerly vice president of the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares prior to the merger, to understand more about the change in name, the merger and future plans. He said, “What we’ve done in combining the GRAMMY Foundation and the GRAMMY Museum is really a case of one and one equals three. The former GRAMMY Foundation and our work in music education, exposing high school students to the variety of careers in music, financially supporting public high school music programs, recognizing excellence in classroom music instruction through the GRAMMY Music Educator Award, is all now combined with the music education activities of the GRAMMY Museum, using music as a tool for students to better express themselves, to do a better job in terms of their own critical thinking, and adds a location to bring, literally, 25,000 students a year, to receive workshops on a variety of artists and genres in music, after-school programs and interactive summer sessions. Combine all of that into one organization under the GRAMMY Museum banner and add to it an award that the museum has traditionally given out, the Jane Ortner Education Award, which is given to a non-music teacher that uses music to teach other disciplines. All of a sudden now, we are speaking as the GRAMMY Museum to the entirety of the education community.

We have, in this merger, probably doubled the suite of education programs that we are presenting and significantly widened the field on which we are working on behalf of music education.

The GRAMMY Museum has a significant, national music education effort. That is what SBO’s readers should know. And that effort is born out through, literally, a dozen different initiatives. The programs they have traditionally understood as coming from the GRAMMY Foundation still live, and now exists under The GRAMMY Museum banner. The name changed, but nothing else really did.

So yes, the museum, it is also destination, but it’s so much more. We have resources available to music teachers, and non-music teachers all year long through our programs. So, we want SBO’s readers to look to us in the same way they used to look to The GRAMMY Foundation.”

The GRAMMY Museum has facilities in multiple locations, including Clarksville, Mississippi and Los Angeles, California. They also have a wonderful exhibit wing at the Musician’s Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.

A few years ago, The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Foundation launched the Music Educator Award to bring attention to the work being done by music teachers across the U.S. The deadline to nominate a teacher annually falls on March 15. Teachers can also apply without being nominated at by March 31.

After a lengthy and detailed review of the entries/nominations, a “blue ribbon committee” selects ten finalists and makes their recommendation to the Board of Trustees, who vote on the final chosen recipient. It is a very involved process post-entry, meaning the nominees and award recipients are certainly not selected by ballot stuffing (you can’t), or popularity of voting by members or others.

I’ve seen the trustees deliberate when I was one of them, and believe me, there were some detailed, passionate discussions about topics. While I have not participated in this process having not been a trustee for 15 years now, I can easily imagine the debate and vote.

Re-branding a business, or product, or service, takes time. The GRAMMY Museum has its work cut out for it in making sure that the education community understands that the museum organization is behind the educational programs that the foundation launched over the years and still continues to this day. From the longtime GRAMMY in the Schools program, to the various GRAMMY Camp programs, GRAMMY Career Day, GRAMMY Signature Schools, to the fairly recent creation of the award recognizing an awesome music teacher each year, none of that has changed. It is simply being managed under the GRAMMY Museum name now.

So, SBO readers, get your nominations and entries ready for the Music Educator Award, and good luck! Entry deadlines are fast approaching!

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