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A City Club Lunch Presentation by Mr. Harris

IMG_3813On Friday, August 19th, we went to a City Club lunch where the speaker was Mr. Greg Harris, President and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During the course of his presentation, he emphasized that the Rock Hall's mission was to "engage, teach and inspire through the power of rock and roll."

Mr. Harris talked about the good programs that the Rock Hall has been involved with over the years like the "Toddler Rock" program wherein rock and roll has been used as a technique to teach social skills to youngsters. Also, a program initiated by the Rock Hall has employed rock and roll as a teaching tool to help some 500,000 local students learn math, social studies and science.

He was proud of the fact that the number of people visiting the Rock Hall has increased in the last couple of years. An important factor might be that photos were allowed to taken so that people could share their Rock Hall experience with their friends thus inspiring them to visit also but, perhaps more likely, creating a more relaxed ambiance and thus one more conducive to enjoyment because the visitors felt free to do what they normally would do at a social event.

Efforts have also been made to make exhibits pertaining to particular artists more "immersion" so the attendee can actually feel like he/she is actually a part of what was happening at the time the artist was living/performing. Along these lines, a new exhibit created by the Rock Hall and the Newseum in Washington, DC is "Louder than Words: Rock, Power and Politics" which, according to what Mr. Harris and the Rock Hall website told us, "explores the power of rock to change attitudes about patriotism, peace, freedom and equality."

Other recent commitments that Mr. Harris cited were the improved website that condensed 17,000 pages down to 1,000; the "Rock Box Project" the helps connect the Rock Hall with downtown Cleveland by playing music over strategically placed speakers; a seasonal stage in the Plaza from which local groups can perform; and more color IMG_3809scattered throughout the museum which generates warmth and comfort.

During the Q and A, Mr. Harris discussed such items as the Rock Hall's relationship to the Rock and Roll Foundation, the procedure of obtaining artifacts for the Rock Hall, and pioneering experiments regarding audio-visual and digital technology.

We asked Mr. Harris about efforts to reach out to international visitors who have only a small, if any grasp of English. He replied that this is an area where improvements are planned since 10% of the visitors are international. They hope to make the website more accessible for people whose main language is one other than English. At the present time, there are guides working at the Rock Hall who are bilingual or multilingual and the print guides are being updated to make them more multilingual. Mr. Harris also indicated that digital technology could be of great assistance here.

Finally, in terms of reaching out to the rest of the world, traveling exhibitions are planned. We certainly agree with Mr. Harris that rock and roll has the power to unite people of other cultures. In fact, at one point Mr. Harris talked about the experience of a young man who he had spoken with who had grown up in Hungary where things were oppressive and quite drab at the time. Nevertheless, the rock music that he heard on Radio Free Europe helped him feel more connected to the rest of the world because he knew that he was enjoying what the other young people of the world were enjoying.

IMG_3807Before the program started, we talked to Mr. Jerry Gootee who sits on the Rock Hall board who said that we should make an effort to come and see "Louder than Words..." because he thought that we would really enjoy it.

We shared a table with Mr. Ann V. Klotz, Head of the Laurel School in Shaker Heights, who told us to be sure and thank Ms. Margaret W. Wong for her support over the years. Accompanying Ms. Klotz was Ms. Beth Embrescia from the Flora Mather Center for Women who remembered us from a couple of programs that we mutually attended.

Sitting at a nearby table was Ms. Mary Ann Conn-Brody who immigrated to the United States from Canada in 1988 with the assistance of Ms. Margaret W. Wong. She said that she really appreciated Ms. Wong's efforts which made a cumbersome process proceed a lot more smoothly than it otherwise would have been.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC


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