Dayton, Oh (February 11, 2009) – Inspired by the upcoming film The Soloist, the League of American Orchestras; Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization; and Participant Media have joined forces for Orchestras Feeding America, a large-scale national food drive. More than 160 orchestras in 45 states (numbers increasing daily) will participate in this unprecedented coordinated effort by collecting and donating food to their local food assistance agency or food bank within Feeding America’s network of more than 200 food banks and 63,000 agencies. The joint announcement was made today by Jesse Rosen, President and CEO of the League of American Orchestras, Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, and Jim Berk, CEO of Participant Media.
The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra has teamed with The Foodbank (427 Washington Street) to set up unmanned food collection barrels in the Schuster Center lobby the afternoon of Friday, March 13 to remain in place until Monday, March 23. The barrels will be placed near the Main Street, Second Street, and Ludlow Street doors of the Schuster Center, respectively.
For more information about Orchestras Feeding America, including a list of participating orchestras, please visit the League’s website americanorchestras.org.
League President and CEO Jesse Rosen commented, “The story of The Soloist reminds us that classical music has the power to sustain spirits and change lives, even under the most difficult circumstances. Our team effort with Feeding America and The Soloist gives America’s orchestras a way to use that power to make an even greater difference in our communities — to feed both body and soul.”
Vicki Escarra, Feeding America President and CEO, said, “Feeding America is thrilled that America’s orchestras are joining us in our fight against hunger in America. This partnership will help the hungry in nearly every community nationwide and the 36 million people who are at risk of hunger.”
Jim Berk, Participant CEO, remarked, “This unprecedented partnership with the League of American Orchestras and Feeding America for a national food drive in connection with the release of The Soloist is a perfect example of how we at Participant use our entertainment projects as catalysts to inspire social change.”
Alan D. Solomont, Chair of the Corporation for National and Community Service, noted that “Orchestras Feeding America is a noble undertaking that is right in tune with President Obama’s vision for shared responsibility and service. In rallying their dynamic organizational networks to team up with Feeding America and Participant Media, America’s orchestras are bringing their pitch-perfect entrepreneurial spirit directly to bear on creating stronger, healthier communities.”
One in eight Americans is at risk of hunger. According to the USDA, there are 36 million people at risk of hunger in the US, 12 million of whom are children. In December 2008, Feeding America conducted a survey of 160 food banks nationwide – the results were troubling, with food banks reporting a 30 percent increase in demand for emergency food assistance, compared to one year ago.
The Soloist, starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr., directed by Joe Wright, will be released by Paramount Pictures to theaters nationwide on April 24. A DreamWorks Pictures/Universal Pictures presentation in association with Studio Canal and Participant Media, the film is based on the true story of the relationship between Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a gifted Juilliard-trained string player whose mental illness landed him among the homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. Featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Soloist is a testament to the redemptive power of music and a reminder of our connections to the most vulnerable among us.
America’s symphony, chamber, collegiate, and youth orchestras touch the lives of nearly 30 million people annually, in all 50 states and in virtually every community. In 2006-07 America’s orchestras performed more than 37,000 concerts, of which nearly half were dedicated to engaging young people and the broader community in the musical experience. Nearly 25% of the music performed by American orchestras was written by American composers; in 2007-08 the programs ranged from beloved classics to more than 120 world premieres.