LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 31: Drummer Matt Sorum, formerly of Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and The Cult, performs onstage with his all-star band Kings of Chaos at the Adopt the Arts annual rock gala at Avalon Hollywood on January 31, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)Getty
Tomorrow night, March 7, Moby will be honored in L.A. by Adopt The Arts (https://www.adoptthearts.org/ata-honors-moby). The night, which will be co-hosted by Jane Lynch and Mayim Bialik and feature performances by Moby, the Crystal Method, Kate Nash and more, benefits Adopt The Arts, the foundation for arts education created by drummer Matt Sorum (Guns ‘N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver) and Abby Berman.
Talk to any artist and they will tell you they would not be where they are today without arts education. Here, Sorum, Moby and Lynch talk about how arts education kept them out of jail, potentially, the teachers that changed their life and why if they could’ve studied with any great artist in one day they chose the likes of David Bowie and Mr. Rogers.
Steve Baltin: Talk about the role arts played in your life.
Matt Sorum: When I was growing up in South Orange County in the late ’60s and ’70s, music was a regular scheduled part of the school day. As we all know in California, Prop 13 changed that in 1978, the year I graduated from High School. Public schools have suffered funding. I’m one of the lucky ones that was able to have three classes a day in high school that were music related. In those days electives were a choice you could make that included arts and music. I never gravitated to academics and would have found myself very lost without the arts. I’ve used everything I learned at that age in my everyday life moving forward and truly believe kids need a well-rounded curriculum to survive in a modern world. This is where they learn about creativity and innovation. I know I did.
Moby: I grew up very poor and insecure, and most of my teachers in elementary school, both art and general, were profoundly supportive and encouraging of any sort of creative expression.
Jane Lynch: My favorite hour of every day when I was in high school was the hour I spent singing in the choir. Most of my friends were people I met in choir and in my theater arts/acting class. The highlight of every year was the school play, whether I had a role in it or not. I would do anything to be a part of it. Props, costumes etc. Anything. I loved being a part of the team. I still do. I don’t ever want to do anything alone. I never want to be on stage alone, I never want to sing alone. I love being a part of a group with the same goal, to put on a show.
Baltin: Was there one teacher and/or class early in school that changed your life and introduced you to your art form?
Sorum: My high school music teacher Terry Newman was the deciding factor in me choosing to be a professional musician. He pulled me aside and said he felt I had what it took to go all the way. He believed in me when I felt no one else did. It was the pinnacle moment that changed my destiny.
Lynch: Learning to sing a vocal part in choir was something I’ll never forget. How all of these different voices singing different notes at the same time created such beauty. It was transforming and transcendent. And for that reason I will never forget and always be grateful to Lamar Runestadt, our choir director
Baltin: Where do you think you would be if you hadn’t had arts in your school?
Lynch: I would be a drain on society for sure if I didn’t have the arts in school growing up. Honest to God, I don’t know what I would be doing if not for the arts. I spend most of my thinking and waking hours contriving jokes, singing to myself (or aloud), doodling on napkins and engaging in loud and boisterous conversations that always start with “what if….”
Moby: I guess it’s not so much where, but how. As in, “How would I be without arts education?” My answer; probably dumber and less happy.
Baltin: What do you hope people who come to the event learn or are reminded about the value of arts education?
Moby: That arts education helps children to have invaluable outlets, that it enables them to make sense of their feelings and the world around them, and that arts education promotes neurogenesis and actually can increase IQ and test scores.
Sorum: I think people believe this is important but the folks that decide where school taxes go miss the point. We’re not trying to create the next rockstars. We have students that could be the next Steve Jobs.
Lynch: I hope that everybody will remember how much the arts meant to them in school, whether or not they became musicians or actors or artists when they grew up. Every kid in every school should be given the opportunity to grow and prosper and create within an arts program.
Baltin: Everyone involved with programs like this has had the chance to give back. What have been your most rewarding moments working with kids or seeing them as they experience arts?
Sorum: I see it first hand, these wonderful gems that will become our future. Especially at this age K-6. They are just forming their personalities and identify who they are. Being inspired and discovering themselves is key. We at Adopt the Arts are here to lift them up and empower them to believe anything is possible. It’s beautiful to see.
Lynch: Seeing our very first project, the music and arts room at Rosewood Elementary we created, was a most satisfying and moving experience. What a joy it was to see the the kids in this brightly painted room playing musical instruments, drawing pictures and singing and laughing and having lots of conversations starting with “what if…”.
Baltin: If you could have studied with any all time great in your world, be it music, arts, acting, whatever, who would you have loved to have had a one-day session with and why?
Sorum: There are so many greats I admire and have been honored to work with so my musical and artistic dreams have come true on many levels. But David Bowie was the purest form of artist in every aspect. That would have been amazing.
Lynch: Mr. Rogers for sure!
Moby: I mean, having Marcel Duchamp as an art teacher would’ve been amazing.