October 12th, 2012
The minutes of the first meeting of the NC Conservatory Committee reflect a major shift in Governor Sanford’s initial mandate for a study on a school for the professional training of music.
Vittorio Giannini was of the opinion that an Arts school should consist of “a broader base and a wider horizon” (PP) than simply the study of music. Permission was granted by Governor Sanford for him to present his plan for a conservatory at the very first committee meeting and lo and behold, it included training in three performing arts, music, drama and ballet. Giannini’s plan also stipulated training from the elementary (age 8) through the postgraduate level. Over lunch prior to the afternoon meeting, John Ehle and Chair Martha Muilenburg prevailed upon him to agree to narrow the focus to the high school and college level.
Giannini’s plan and John Ehle’s notions regarding the professional training of artists quickly meshed to form the basis upon which McNeill Lowry and the Ford Foundation began to take a serious look at the conservatory intent as a capital investment possiblity. Giannini had long been an acquantance of Lowry in New York and Ehle had doggedly pursued the Foundation and been granted funds for the Governor’s antipoverty program in 1963. In only a matter of eight weeks, the Governor had organized a team of advocates and had an outline for a new plan for arts education in North Carolina which was well on its way to becoming a reality. Ehle was not about to give up on the Ford Foundation and Lowry quickly became a silent cheerleader in the race to sponsor the first state supported school for the professional training of the arts in the nation.