Looking at the work of Jose Antonio Abreu in Venezuela we see how the arts can transform society by bridging the gap between rich and poor while increasing intellectual and emotional capacities in children. From an original group of 11 impoverished children Abreu built the more than 300,000 student El Sistema, a nationwide organization of more than 100 youth orchestras made up of students from poor and middle-class neighborhoods. As Abreu states: “It is evident that music has to be recognized as an element of socialization, as an agent of social development in the highest sense, because it transmits the highest values: solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion.”
Is it time to implement a proactive approach to our societal dilemmas by providing all our children means for a better way? Some think so as is evidenced by El Sistema groups forming around the world. For information on the USA group go to http://elsistemausa.org/.