Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea is speaking out about the need for more funding for music and arts education in U.S. schools, telling Rolling Stone that, “It’s child abuse, it’s just wrong.”
Flea started the non-profit Silverlake Conservatory of Music in 2001 to give free music lessons to qualifying youths (about 800 in the latest count) and says that was borne out of a visit to his own high school and discovering no instruments in the music room.
“They had maybe one or two acoustic guitars, a boombox, a volunteer teacher, and they were sitting around talking about music,” Flea recalls. “I was so disheartened. I was like, ‘Where’s the orchestra? Where’s the band?’ And I was told they cut out all the funding for that stuff. They didn’t have instruments for the teachers anymore. It really shocked me.”
Flea adds that he’s concerned about more cuts to arts education as the result of a new federal budget being debated in Washington, D.C.
Flea is looking at opening a second music school in the Watts section of Los Angeles.
The Chili Peppers, meanwhile, return to the road September 15 for the Kaaboo Del Mar festival in California, with dates slated into October for the U.S., Ireland, Brazil and Mexico.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.