Our friend in the Senate

Newly-elected state senator Brad Hoylman cares about live music, organized labor and music education. What's not to like?

Volume 112, No. 12December, 2012

Brad Hoylman

Brad Hoylman is the newly elected state senator for the 27th district.

Brad M. Hoylman is the newly-elected New York State Senator for the
27th district, which includes Lincoln Center, Local 802’s neighborhood and a
major swath of Manhattan. He was endorsed by his predecessor, Senator Tom Duane,
as well as Local 802 and many other political leaders and community
organizations. Local 802’s political director K.C. Boyle recently sat down
with Hoylman and got his thoughts on music education, the labor movement and the
importance of live music.

K.C. Boyle: Why do you believe that music education is
important for public school students in this day and age?

Brad Hoylman: I benefited personally from music education in
public school. I played the trumpet and baritone in my junior high and high
school band and I really believe it gave me a lot of self confidence. I learned
important social and leadership skills as a member of those bands – how to
interact with people, how to take on projects, how to accomplish goals. I spent
a lot of time with friends and learning to tackle problems as a group. But there
are also compelling studies that show music education assists with cognitive
development and contributes more broadly to academic success. So for all those
reasons as well as the notion that our young people need to be culturally and
artistically aware, I think it makes us better citizens to have a broader base
of knowledge. One of the great things about being a New Yorker is all of the
wonderful cultural opportunities we have. So the more people we can get turned
on to music and art at an early age, the better for all of us as New Yorkers and
as supporters of our public school system.

K.C. Boyle: Is it safe to say that public education is not all
about test scores and that there is inherent value in arts education?

Brad Hoylman: Absolutely. If we simply relied on test scores, I
think we’d lose a lot of contributors to our society at an early age. I myself
was a bad test taker but an excellent student, so I think I’m living proof
that we need to broaden our understanding of education and "teaching to the
test." Evaluating teachers on the test scores is really the wrong way to
go. There is so much more to being educated than just math and reading – which
are obviously cornerstones of an education. But music and art are so important
to our society – and frankly our civilization – that we’d be remiss if we
didn’t include them. We need to strengthen them and we need to find ways to
fund them in our public school system. I was very proud to be part of an effort
at the local level where we got a million dollars to support arts education for
three public schools and that’s the kind of advocacy I hope to continue as
state senator for this neighborhood.

K.C. Boyle: What advice do you have for the labor community?

Brad Hoylman: I would advise my friends in labor to continue to
be energized at every level of government, as you have been for the last
l00-plus years. The stakes are really too high in this day and age for any of us
to sit on the sidelines. One example is the battle to ban pre-recorded music at
Lincoln Center and other venues. I think that the artistic and cultural
integrity of venues like Lincoln Center, our theatre houses and other performing
arts locations in the city have to be safeguarded from short-sighted,
cost-cutting measures like canned music. That kind of effort really needs to
begin at the grassroots level and I think labor’s done an excellent job at
making certain that candidates from the City Council on up understand the
importance of the right to organize and issues that concern working men and
women in New York City. They really need to continue to do that and it’s even
more critical as we move into these municipal elections in 2013.

K.C. Boyle: What are three things you’d like to accomplish in
your first year as a state senator?

Brad Hoylman: For starters, I’d like to listen to my
constituents fairly, and vigorously represent their interests in Albany. That
would include my brothers and sisters in organized labor, for certain. Secondly,
I’d like to protect the vital services that so many of us use from cuts, and
also strengthen laws that protect regulated housing; we have so much of it in my
district that’s crucial to the wellbeing of thousands of New Yorkers. Third, I’d
like to work to help restore confidence in Albany. In part, that goes to the
issue of campaign finance reform and making certain that we have a law that caps
contributions at a reasonable amount and encourages transparency, provides
public financing, and overall promotes government reform. Those are my top

K.C. Boyle: It’s sad when we hear of venues or shows that use
taped music at live performances. Why do you think live music is important to
our culture?

Brad Hoylman: Because live music represents an incredibly important
livelihood for so many people and so many artists in our city. When music is
performed live it has so much more meaning and feeling and essence. Frankly that’s
what you’re paying for when you’re a consumer of art culture as I often am
in New York City. So not only do we need to protect the vital aspect of our work
force, but we need to give consumers what they’re paying for. And that goes to
New York’s locale as a cultural capital of not just the U.S. but the entire
world. We really need to work hard to make certain that live music remains in
place. Live music perpetuates the artistic integrity that’s so crucial to our
local economy and to our cultural success.