Students perform for 16 hours to ‘Save the Arts’

The post was written Hatchet reporter by Abigail Eddy.

Just before 10 p.m. on Thursday, members of the GW Jazz Orchestra were wrapping up their lively set before a crowd of about four dozen in the small courtyard on the corner of 22nd and G Street.

Lit only by a nearby streetlight and scattered lights on music stands, the makeshift stage was host to poets, artists and activists as part of “Save the Arts GW” 16-hour protest concert. By the time the group performed, the concert was already five hours underway.

Passersby paused to observe and students clustered together on blankets to watch The Troubadours, Sons of Pitch and about 20 other groups perform in protest of recent cuts to GW’s music department’s budget — changes students and faculty said will dramatically alter the department.

After the coalition picked April 16 to hold the protest, they learned a GW Admitted Students Day would fall on Friday. As dozens of accepted students and their parents strolled by, supporters handed them brightly-colored fliers with bullet points describing how the University-wide budget cuts will affect the music department and the department of theatre and dance.

Stephen Arnold, a sophomore and one of the student organizers, emceed the event. Around 4:30 p.m. on Friday, he wrapped up the concert by thanking the various groups involved and the protest concluded with a cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends” by The Beatles.

“It seems that people care and it’s validating. Hopefully [the administration] will acknowledge it and we will have our voices heard,” Arnold said.

The protest concert began in Kogan Plaza, but was relocated within two hours to the space next to the GW Deli. Zach Sanders, a freshman and one of the organizers, said they’d expected to be asked to move. He said he was “happy to have a legitimate place” to perform.

The group secured an official permit for the space next to the GW Deli from Metropolitan Police Department. Arnold said GW helped them secure the last-minute permit.

“We didn’t even know we needed a permit,” Arnold said. “There was a portion of the group that thought we that we could get arrested.”

Attendees were encouraged to take pictures of the performances, and performers asked the crowd to use #SavetheArtsGW on Twitter. About 900 people clicked “attend” on Facebook, and the crowd fluctuated between 30 and 50 people.

Sam Pfister, who manages instrument rentals for the student musician coalition and has written for The Hatchet, said the group cobbled the event together in about two weeks.

“We tried to accommodate everyone. I’m shocked at the number of people who wanted to perform,” he said.

Catherine Moran contributed reporting.

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