The relevance of the projects being implemented cuts across age, gender, educational background, level of literacy or visible artistic ability, and especially in the case of children has many benefits and positive results in the cycle of child development. Studies and research have shown that studying music has the power to develop and impact a series of basic life skills, such as teamwork, appreciation of different cultures, communication and self expression, increased self confidence. These will all have a positive impact in a person’s life. Furthermore, music will develop creativity, which is often essential in the workplace and could impact the chances of a country’s economic development. Also, much evidence has shown that music is beneficial to children’s cognitive development and learning abilities. Moreover, music is often integrated into other subjects‟ learning programs and it has been shown that it effectively helps the brain to function more efficiently.
In developing the community arts and music projects, while allowing them a great deal of diversity in their mediums and outputs, it was important that the differing needs or aspirations of each new group of child-participants located in a new Home were taken into account. While it was not possible to meet all these fully, it shaped a fuller understanding of the implementation of projects.
In order to preserve a more uniform approach to projects being implemented at different sites or Homes, there are some key elements lacking at present. These include the lack of similar training or experience of resource persons (who may be teachers/teaching-instructors) or curriculum and module that can be used for community arts projects in a replicable manner. In the absence of both of these elements, uniform conceptualization or implementation of projects is very challenging and tedious. It is important to seek solutions to address these two primary gaps, since the challenges in scalability and replication of the model are a corollary of the same.
Music Basti selected centers for the implementation of its projects that were semi-institutionalized with the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and also formal-education being met for the children living at the center, with the addition of caregivers working to provide lay counseling, care and affection to the children.
Within this context, ‘supplementary’ programs have more relevance. Children have many hours of un-engaged free time that is not directed productively or guided constructively. In addition to this, the large numbers of children and limited resources at the centers promote values of competition and individualism. Therefore, there is a further role of arts programs to help foster an atmosphere conducive to the values of cooperation, sharing and common good. These in turn will have the scope to promote within the children a sense of self-worth, confidence and expression.
With regard to the selection of children, projects should be based on the tenets of encouraging maximum inclusion and participation. Efforts should be made when feasible to couple this maximum participation approach with focused and structured learning for smaller groups of child-participants who demonstrate exceptional inclination, skill, talent or an interest in pursuing the subjects being explored. Individual choice of the child-participants should be upheld, and incentives and motivational practices should be built into the approach to decrease dropouts. A positive strategy for this is conducting regular consultation meetings with the child-participant groups for feedback and planning.
The model of Music Basti is youth-led and run, networking with artists, volunteers, professionals and resource persons, and through collaborations with non-profit organizations, cultural-educational-social-arts organizations and institutions to create, implement and evaluate projects with children-at-risk, with a focus on working with and empowering former street and slum children (victims of abuse, neglect, exploitation, trafficking and poverty) as the primary beneficiaries, and sensitizing, mobilizing and training youth volunteers and artists, who also function as resource persons and as secondary beneficiaries in the process.
The project team is based on the following structure:
Mentors & Advisors who periodically meet the Core Management Team and/or Project Officer on a consultative basis, and adviseon different areas the project development, scale, scope, implementation, assessment, etc. They are professionals or experts in their respective fields.
Core Management Team of 6-8 individuals comprising of the Project Officer, Programs Manager, Volunteer Manager, Communications Team, Program Heads, who may be full-time and/or part-time and positions may be paid/voluntary.
Core Artists Team of 8-10 individuals who are experts (teachers, performers, educationalists) and work not only at a consultative level with the strategic planning of projects, but also at the level of direct implementation and assessment.
Volunteer Teaching-Artists (may include the Core Artists Team) work directly to implement projects, teach, assess and manage the same.
Volunteers are recruited on a regular basis to assist in the projects implementation.
The model is a strongly volunteer driven one, which derives its strength from the voluntary contributions of the Mentors, Advisors, Core Management Team, Core Artists’ Team, Teaching Artists and also student-volunteers. It relies on a motivated and efficient Core Management Team that develops and drives projects forward.