Send Blogger Scott Chamberlain to Cuba!

By Scott Chamberlain

Hello friends—I have some good news to share!

But first, a word of introduction.  I’m Scott Chamberlain, and for the last two years I’ve been writing about classical music, arts administration, and the music industry in general at my blog, “Mask of the Flower Prince.”  The blog’s genesis was rooted in the Minnesota Orchestra 2013-2014 labor dispute—I worked for the organization and performed with them many times as a member of the Minnesota Chorale, and through these and other connections I ended up having a front-row seat as the carnage unfolded.  As an independent writer, I was fairly free to speak my mind, and I built a solid reputation for providing commentary that managed to be both hard-driving yet fair.  

The Minnesota Orchestra lockout ended in 2014, but in rapid succession new labor disputes broke out with the Metropolitan Opera and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.  And I once again found myself at ground zero, proving analysis and rebuttals to false statement.

Fortunately, the year of labor strife is over (hopefully for a good long time!), and I’ve been able to write about much more enjoyable topics.  My goal has always been to make the world of classical music as understandable as possible for the broader public.  Well, understandable and exciting.  We have many great writers out there specializing in technical writing, musicology, and even reviews… I’ve tried to take a more populist route, to make the music and concert experience come alive.  And most of all, to tell good stories.

One other thing. As long-time readers of my blog know, my other life-long passion is Latin America. Prior to jumping into the arts I was in academia, teaching Latin American history at the University of Kansas.  I’ve long suspected I’m the only person on the planet to get into the arts for the better pay, better job security, and fewer politics.

Well… these two seemingly different fields of interest are about to combine.

The Minnesota Orchestra is scheduled to tour to Cuba in May—the first major cultural exchange of its kind since President Obama announced a new era of rapprochement between Cuba and the United States.

I’m thrilled to announce that I have been selected as one of the press members accompanying the Orchestra and reporting from Cuba!

I will be working with MinnPost, an outstanding media outlet based in Minneapolis that has fantastic coverage of the arts and cultural scene here in town. I’m hoping to provide reports from the road, along with a wrap-up.

It is an unbelievable opportunity—one that I would never have believed possible a year ago when the Orchestra lockout had just ended—and I am bouncing off the walls in anticipation!

But I could use your help.

As I am not (yet!) a member of the major media and don’t have the extensive resources of the major outlets around town, I will be financing the trip on my own. Members of the press are offered a discounted price to participate, but even so this trip will be pricey.

And so I have a favor to ask of all of you.

Do you support community-based writing?  Do you love laughing at behind-the-scenes anecdotes?  Do you enjoy stories have brought you closer to the music?  Are you intrigued to learn about music in Cuba? Have you read my articles and are now curious to read more?

If so, I invite you to consider making a donation of any size to my GoFundMe page that I’ve set up to help finance this tour. The total cost to the program with fees, and additional expenses is $5,250, and I’m putting up $1,000 of my own money to begin. Will you help fund the remaining $4,250?

With this support, I’ll be able to bring you up close to the action, and let you share in the excitement more or less as it unfolds.

One final note. As I’m posting this, I have not formally been given my journalist visa from the Cuban government. I don’t foresee a problem, but the departure date is fast approaching and I want to be ready. If there is any change of plans, rest assured that all contributions will be returned.

Thank you for your support!

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