Memphis Music Initiative.


Memphis Music Initiative is a three- year pilot project investing in Memphis, its youth, its communities and its musical legacy by broadening and strengthening existing music engagement offerings in and out of schools and supporting youth-centered, community-based music spaces. The pilot project grew out of a participatory strategic planning process that involved youth, parents, city leadership, arts leadership and musicians.


Together with a team of strategists I worked to create a comprehensive plan to fund and provide high quality music education to youth living in Memphis. In my role I designed and implemented a photo-based asset mapping project in which Memphis youth leaders evaluated youth access to musical programming and content. I trained youth leaders in Memphis to document (using photography, videography and interviews) and analyze existing music and arts education resources in the city and then to provide recommendations to the planning committee. With the resulting map (see snapshot below) and subsequent presentations made by youth to the planning committee, youth showed how limited public transportation, out-dated marketing strategies and the perception that “high” art was not for them, impeded their ability to access (or even know about) musical programs already available to young people.

MMI Youth Asset Map

In addition to the mapping project, I also produced a short film documenting the Memphis Music Initiative (see video at top of page). The film, which conveyed the richness of the planning process and also the diversity of the stakeholders who participated, was used to explain the process and encourage broader community buy-in in the resulting plan and subsequent pilot.



Memphis Music Initiative was fully funded ($20 million over a three-year period). The Initiative is currently in its first year.



  • Memphis Music Initiative
  • September 2014 and September 2015
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