Crowley-Created Musician & Artists Corps Given Final Approval by U.S. Congress

Mar 31, 2009

Washington, D.C. —  Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) applauded Congressional approval of the Crowley-authored Musician and Artists Corps, which was included in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (H.R. 1388).  The legislation echoes President Obama’s call to action and encourages Americans to improve their communities through a commitment to service and volunteerism.  Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the final version of the bill by a vote of 275 to 149, and the bill now goes to the President for signature into law.

“Music has played an incredibly important role in my life, and I know firsthand that music and the arts are about far more than just entertainment – they have the power to change lives,” said Congressman Crowley.  “In my own life, my early interest in music sparked a lifelong commitment to service.  When I was nine years-old, former-Beatle George Harrison organized the Concert for Bangladesh to bring global attention to the small, impoverished country.  His commitment to the cause inspired me and has stayed with me ever since.  When I was elected to the Congress, I founded the Congressional Bangladesh Caucus to help Bangladesh establish a democratic government and care for its people.  There are thousands of other musicians and artists across the nation ready and eager to serve and with this bill they will be able to answer President Obama’s call to serve.”
 
The Crowley-authored Musicians and Artists Corps would train and deploy skilled musicians and artists to low income communities, schools, healthcare and therapeutic settings and other areas to lead music and arts engagement programs.  Research has shown that music and arts education contributes to lower crime rates among disadvantaged youth, and improves graduation rates and academic performance in schools.  Additionally, patients suffering from trauma, chronic illness, and emotional or mental health problems, all show benefits from engagement in art and music programs.
 
President Obama’s challenge resonates deeply with Americans everywhere and I am proud my Musicians and Artists Corps program will be an integral part of launching a new era of American service,” continued Congressman Crowley.  “If we all committed an afternoon, a weekend, or even just a few hours to a local service project, we would make immeasurable improvements to our community.  We are a nation that can do anything when we put our minds to it and passage of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act today is a key step towards renewing a spirit of volunteerism across the nation.”

Once signed into law by President Obama, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act will more than triple the number of volunteers from the current 75,000 to 250,000.  It will create a new national Call to Service campaign to encourage all Americans to get involved in service.   Especially significant to the New York region, the law would designate September 11th a National Day of Service and Remembrance, honoring the memory of our friends, family and neighbors with community service projects across the nation.  Additionally, the law would offer many incentives for students to commit to volunteer service, including an education award for volunteer service up to $5,350 towards college costs, and create a Summer of Service program for middle- and high-school students.  For a more detailed fact sheet and full list of provisions included in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act click here; for New York State-specific information on the role of service programs click here.

Congressman Crowley is a life-long musician and six-term Representative of the 7th Congressional District of New York that includes sections of the Bronx and Queens.  He is the highest ranking member from New York in the House Democratic Leadership and he is a member of the exclusive House Committee on Ways and Means.