January 2022 — JazzArts Charlotte CEO Lonnie Davis participated in an immersive cultural visit to Cuba, hosted by the late Robert Bush, past President/CEO of Mecklenburg County’s Arts & Science Council. Across 12 days, the group visited schools, galleries, homes, venue and conservatories to learn about the rich cultural traditions.
JazzArts Charlotte brought basic music supplies including instrument reeds and valve oil, which are hard to come by for Cuban musicians, instructors, and students in the midst of a resource crisis. One excited music program director referred to the much needed rare musical supplies as “gold”.
“I was there to learn,” shares Lonnie. “I witnessed Cuba’s world-renowned visual arts and music educational programs, learned about their standards and teaching methods.” Despite the lack of access, arts education is a major priority, with arts being a part of every aspect of society. There were many lessons to take from the Cuban approach to jazz.
Cuba is a poor country that is rich in community, resourcefulness, ingenuity, culture, and tradition. “It was invigorating and enlightening, and we’ll definitely incorporate a few ideas that we learned for our own programs.” Says Lonnie.
In Memorial of Robert Bush
One of Lonnie’s last moments with Robert Bush was on this trip. It was a tremendous and sad loss for the community, and personally for JazzArts Charlotte. Robert was a mentor to the organization in its infancy, a true supporter of community, arts, and jazz, and JazzArts Charlotte wouldn’t be the organization it is without him.