Meet the Academy

“The moment a child in poverty learns to play an instrument they are no longer poor; they become a child in progress.” Maestro Jose Abreu, founder of the El Sistema music movement

SJMA is the story of one person’s determination to give children a better chance in life. When cuts to public school funding during the last economic recession meant that Vancouver’s inner-city children had limited or no access to quality music education, long-time Downtown Eastside area resident Kathryn Walker decided to do something about it. She began a two-year process of building alliances and support in the community for a music academy that would not only teach music but use music as a means of reversing the negative social forces that neighbourhood children commonly face. SJMA opened its doors in September, 2007 with 45 enrollments and a budget of $37,000. Since then, the Academy has grown rapidly each year, touching the lives of many hundreds of children. Today there are 200 children in the core after-school programs and another 250 children in outreach programs.

Our Mission Statement

Inspiring Vancouver’s inner city youth to bring social transformation through the power and joy of music.