State study committee looks at the future of music and music education in Georgia

The 13 member music study panel heard from Georgia music icons and leaders Friday about the booming music industry, and what incentives can do to create state revenue. The panel also discussed more funding for fine arts and music education programs. (Credit: Josie Gregory)

Georgia, and Savannah in particular, is a popular spot for filmmakers. Recently, Georgia ranked third for film production across the country. Now, the music industry wants some recognition.

Georgia state legislators and various music icons are a part of a music study committee, tasked with researching the state's growing industry. The panel heard from those in the music industry Friday.

Speakers touched on everything from music production, to education, to live events, and tax incentives.

Music education is one spot many speakers think the state can improve on, saying Georgia is probably last when it comes to fine arts spending in schools.

Chris Bulgren is a music education professor at Armstrong State University, one of 48 post-secondary music schools across the state. He said, "[the teachers] want to educate [the students] here, and want them to stay here."

Although he has only been teaching post-secondary education for a few months now, he grew up learning and playing music. He considers it his ultimate passion. "I think I was maybe like a lot of people are today. They don't see music as a viable career," he said.

Georgia music icons want lawmakers to increase spending on music education, and allow incentives so more music companies will be willing to do business in Georgia, and so students can know there is a job close by.

Bram Bessoff is one of the speakers advocating for the incentives. He is a long-time drummer and live event producer. He wants to see music expand all across the state. "Music holds incredible power. It puts butts in seats. It sells brands and experiences, and creates an emotional connection," he said.

With speakers' testimony, state lawmakers are beginning to listen. Senator Jeff Mullins, R-Chickamauga, heads up the music study commission. He, along with the rest of the panel, recognize the importance of music in the state, starting with the children.

"We want to develop a music industry that starts from the school all the way to production, and producing, and starting it all right here," Sen. Mullis said.

Bulgren said it is encouraging to hear the state take interest in music education, especially as an educator.

Sen. Mullis said the goal of the study is the evaluate what incentives to give, and what money to spend where. He hopes to have a House and Senate bill to introduce during the next legislative session.

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