by Dan Beck, Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund

If you have ever heard me speak about the mission of the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF), you might remember that I invariably request photos, whenever possible, from the events that we co-sponsor. I am sure that, on the surface, it sounds quaint and nice that the MPTF wants to have a collection of memories or that we are looking for some added proof that the event actually happened.

The fact is, I see the use of photos as the tools to convey the impact of the MPTF’s work. It’s not always easy for people to grasp exactly who we are and what we do. We are a support organization. We support the employment of musicians. We support traditional values and community spirit. We help use music as an instrument of well-being for the elderly. We support music culture and music education for our young people.

However, we are never alone in this effort. As supporters of local community events, we are a co-sponsor. We are never specifically in the forefront, which is simply part of who we are. Many of the events that we help to succeed would continue on even without our help. However, there are also many events where our financial support is a linchpin to a school program or a traditional public event. Certainly, the members of the American Federation of Musicians understand what we do better than anyone. However, it is not always obvious for those outside the realm of live music performing to get it.

So how does the MPTF tell its story? How do we get the outside world to relate to our value? How can we, through our mission to assure that musicians are paid fairly for free public performances, educate others to the value of music and the musicians who perform it?

That’s where pictures come in. “Pictures are worth a thousand words,” goes the old axiom. Pictures tell complex stories and convey a wide dimension of information and emotion. They capture the faces of an audience immersed in a musical performance. They tell us that a veteran musician shared his or her deep knowledge and passion with a student eager to learn. We are struck by a dramatic photo that illustrates the power of an orchestra. And then we are moved by the snapshot that shows the joy of a senior citizen reconnecting with a musical memory.

One of our strongest impulses as humans is to seek community. And what greater inspiration for communal experience is there than a live music performance? Whether it’s a picture of an intimate audience, or a massive confluence of people, it tells a story of how music touches our souls. We don’t have to plead or boast when we can just show the pictures.

If you participate in social media, I invite you to visit our Facebook page to scroll through the many, many pictures we have posted from some of the events we have co-sponsored over the past several months. Every performance was free. Every musician paid. Every audience inspired. Look at the faces.

These photos represent our body of work. We should all take pride in that. We want to keep growing it and we want to give credit to the local organizations and the musicians and union locals that work hand-in-hand with us to make these events special. We want your photos.

We also want you to “Like” our Facebook page and to share it and spread the word. Let’s get some people to see what we do together. It might just inspire someone or some outside organization to help us. It might get someone thinking about all the good work so many musicians do to enlighten and entertain. People need to know!

Here at the MPTF, we would just simply like to have more people “Get the picture!”