by Mark Rummel
There is so much more to the Flint Institute of Music (FIM) than clef notes on a page, or instruments in an orchestra.
The FIM leads nearly a dozen community engagement and outreach initiatives all year long throughout Flint and Genesee County, says FIM President and CEO Rodney Lontine. Through those efforts, the group earns its rank as the eighth largest community music school in the United States.
President/CEO Lontine is a firm believer in utilizing the arts as an engine for both economic and social growth. “The arts are a positive change agent — they always have been,” Lontine says. “You take any city that is redeveloping; the arts move in and they bring in culture and music and restaurants,” he said when he came to Flint to head the FIM in 2015. “Then it becomes a cool place to be.”
The FIM includes The Flint Symphony Orchestra, Flint School of Performing Arts and Flint Repertory Theatre, known as “The Rep.” It offers music and dance lessons for all ages plus drama school for children ages 3 years to grade 12.
Youth have always been a major focus for the FIM — students participate in the dance and performance ensembles such as the Flint Youth Symphony Orchestra, Flint Youth Ballet Ensemble, Dort Honors Quartet, the Improv Squad and more, Lontine says. And it’s been that way since Flint’s Community Music Association was founded in 1917 by J. Dallas Dort.
This past January, the FIM has also assumed programming for and day-to-day management of The Whiting and the Capitol Theatre. This provides excellent permanent oversight and coordination of these landmark Flint institutions. Plus, all Genesee County residents now receive discounts of 30% to 50% on concert and show tickets, in gratitude for passing the recent fine arts property tax millage.
“We are committed to the Genesee County residents. Anybody who voted for (the millage) became a stakeholder” in programs offered by the organizations that benefit from it, Lontine said.
The Flint Institute of Music reaches out throughout the county in these leading programs:
MUSIC AROUND TOWN:
Collaborative performances of FIM artists play throughout the county with local and national performing arts partners. This includes the annual July 4th FSO/FYSO Pops Concert at Atwood Stadium, live outdoor music at Applewood and joint presentations with the National Arab Orchestra and Sphinx Virtuosi;
Live musical performances that integrate core curriculum and character education lessons in schools. This has reached 30,000 students in 84 schools;
LEARNING THROUGH THEATRE:
Offers attendance at one of The Rep’s season productions of live plays or musicals) along with workshops to meet core curriculum requirements. This reaches 2,000 students throughout the county, plus 3,000 students in follow-up workshops;
FAMILY DAY AT FSO:
Discounted reserved tickets for performances, plus backstage meet & greet events and sessions to introduce youths to musical appreciation;
For students of FSPA, The Rep and Flint Cultural Center Academy allow students to receive free tickets to any three concerts of the FSO season, plus other discounts;
MUSIC ON THE MOVE:
FSPA student ensembles perform for a variety of community organizations, senior centers, hospitals, etc., throughout the year;
CARNEGIE HALL LULLABY PROJECT:
The FSPA completed 11 of these projects in the past year, and 47 since the program’s inception four years ago;
Students of the FSPA, The Rep and Flint Cultural Center Academy receive instruction from expert visiting artists, and
FIM music therapists have developed community partnerships with local hospitals and agencies, to deliver free services to their clients, with help from donors and sponsors.
This proves that the range of programs offered year-round by the FIM reaches all types of people in Flint and Genesee County, for art’s sake. Details are available at or by following the FIM on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.