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Recording and preserving the local arts of the Missouri River region

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Jerome Wheeler's Statement of Purpose
Monday, December 13th 2004
Cooper's Landing Meeting

Dear Participants,

Just a few brief words as way of an introduction to an idea that has been hopping around these parts for nigh on twenty years or so. It should come as no surprise that it involves the music of this area (Mid-Missouri for lack of a better definition) and the musicians who play it. Tonight's meeting will be about an idea, just the bare idea at this point -- it will be your job to help us expand it-- and ways we could go about implementing that idea.

Mike Cooper and I share the same conviction that the cultural identity of this area is closely tied to and in some cases defined by the music that is composed and played here. Songwriters have had their share of successes on the national front but many, many more have chosen to remain close to home and continue writing about what they know and care about, mainly the people of this area, the River and Missouri.

Even then, you can't keep good songs down and several musicians among them, Bob Dyer, Dave and Kathy Para, Ken Shepard, Lee Ruth, and myself have all achieved a level of national and regional prominence and yet still are closely identified within that prominence as being Missouri musicians.

What Mike and I would like to do is to take the songwriters in this area, unknowns as well as knowns and use them in a project that would put that identity in a video-tape/DVD archive for historical and cultural purposes. The clock is running out on many of our local treasures and we are afraid that if we don't act quickly that several songwriters will be beyond our reach.

There are several possible ways we can go about this, but neither Mike nor myself know for sure if they are viable or realistic. Some May involve private funding, some may involve grants for public monies, some may involve a combination of both. We need to assemble people with the knowledge of what we can do and what we can't do and how to go about what we can and how to get around what we can't. Let's find some way to do this.

Jerome Wheeler