Music to our ears

Why musicians, union members and all working people should support Bill de Blasio's campaign for mayor

Volume 113, No. 8September, 2013

Tino Gagliardi
Bill de Blasio accepted Local 802's endorsement on Aug. 12 at a spirited press conference in Times Square that featured live music performed by Local 802 members. Photo: New Yorkers for de Blasio

Bill de Blasio accepted Local 802’s endorsement on Aug. 12 at a spirited press conference in Times Square that featured live music performed by Local 802 members. Photo: New Yorkers for de Blasio

The following is a transcript of Tino Gagliardi’s remarks on Aug. 12 in support of Bill de Blasio’s candidacy for mayor of New York City. The announcement event was held on the pedestrian plaza at the corner of Broadway and 44th Street in the heart of the Broadway theatre district.

I am proud to announce that the Local 802 Executive Board has unanimously endorsed Bill de Blasio to become the next mayor of New York City.

Why do New York City musicians support Bill de Blasio for mayor?

Bill de Blasio has dedicated his career to championing economic and social justice for every New Yorker – including the hard-working musicians whose artistry is key to our city’s cultural and tourism economy. He understands the need for performing artists to be able to live and raise their families right here in the five boroughs. And he knows that to do this, we need:

  • Affordable housing
  • Livable wages
  • Affordable transportation
  • Access to hospitals and health care in our communities
  • And strong public schools that offer instruction in music and the arts.

Bill has distinguished himself from the other mayoral candidates in this election, emerging as the one leader with genuinely progressive ideas and the fortitude to stand up to entrenched special interests to truly improve the quality of life of New Yorkers citywide.

I have witnessed Bill’s leadership first-hand during my tenure as president of Local 802, and I can say that this city has been extremely fortunate to have Bill as their public advocate. In this role, he has been a true champion for the interests of all New Yorkers, especially working people.

Bill’s leadership has been a beacon of hope for middle- and lower-income New Yorkers, characterized by a respect for communities and individuals, and a tireless effort to give all residents of New York City a voice in the future direction of this great metropolis.

In musical terms, it’s like the difference between having a tin ear and having perfect pitch.

We at Local 802 consider ourselves to be a guild, as well as a union. This means we are artists first. There are some who believe that if we are truly putting art first, we should not involve ourselves in politics. But the reality is we simply don’t have the luxury of sitting it out.

The mayor sets the framework for all the priorities and investments of the city. Musicians must make sure that our next mayor understands the importance of not letting live music in our city’s great performing arts venues be replaced by recordings. Our next mayor must also understand the struggles of jazz musicians being exploited by jazz club owners, and understand the value of labor and the day-to-day struggles of working families. Bill de Blasio will be that mayor.

If we hope to usher in a new era of government accountability and transparency, then getting involved in politics becomes not just a necessity, but a fundamental responsibility.

Now I want to speak briefly about Bill’s commitment to education. Education, and particularly arts education, is one of the most important issues to me and the members of Local 802.

Last year, the Center for Arts Education released a study showing that the New York City Department of Education is spending less than $2 per year per student on art and music supplies.

When we interviewed Bill, he said this city is “the music and cultural capital of the world, but we haven’t been reflecting that reality in our public schools.” Bill de Blasio wants that to change.

In addition to his pledge to extend pre-K to all – which would constitute a major benefit to kids and working families – Bill has a creative proposal to guarantee additional after-school arts education to all middle-schoolers. Along with homework help and tutoring, this program will give young adolescents training in the performing and fine arts. Arts programs have proved highly engaging for middle school students, tapping into their creativity as a way to motivate them to stay in school and succeed across the entire curriculum. We can all say “Bravo!” to that.

Finally, I want to share some of the advice Bill has given to unions. He has called on us to redouble our efforts to organize, and to “strive to make the labor movement more relevant than ever.”

When Bill de Blasio is mayor, we will at last have a chief executive in this city who is a real partner in supporting working people and bettering lives in every community.

Bill’s message is music to the ears of the working people of New York.

Musicians believe that as a smart, progressive mayor, Bill de Blasio will significantly expand opportunities for all to participate fully in the great symphony orchestra that is New York City.