Saint James Music Academy is the story of one person’s determination to give children a better chance in life. When cuts to public school funding during the last economic recession meant that Vancouver’s inner-city children had limited or no access to quality music education, long-time Downtown Eastside area resident Kathryn Walker decided to do something about it. She began a two-year process of building alliances and support in the community for a music academy that would not only teach music but use music as a means of reversing the negative social forces that neighbourhood children commonly face. SJMA opened its doors in September, 2007 with 45 enrollments and a budget of $37,000. Since then, the Academy has grown rapidly each year, touching the lives of many hundreds of children. Today there are 180 children in the core after-school programs and another 250 children in outreach programs. SJMA believes in social transformation through the power and love of music and is also Canada’s first ever El Sistema inspired program.
Watch this great promo clip meant to promote what music is really about - encouraging students to be amazing people in their families and communities.