June 13 (Bloomberg) -- The members of the indie pop band Matt and Kim haven’t seen much of the countries they’ve toured in.
“We experience backstage rooms,” Matt Johnson said.
“They’re basically all the same,” Kim Schifino said.
The pair were at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations last night for a reception hosted by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
Among the attendees gathered under a Sol LeWitt ceiling drawing: Marc Lasry, founder and managing partner of Avenue Capital Group (who said he’s heading to Russia for the first time next week), and photographer and filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (who said he has no plans to travel this summer).
The Fulbright program, created in 1946 and sponsored by the State Department, has sent 100,000 U.S. students abroad and brought 200,000 foreign students to the U.S., said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN.
Johnson and Schifino, who will be performing at the Catalpa NYC Music Festival on Randall’s Island in July, are on a selection committee for the MTVu Fulbright Scholars. These students focus on music during their travels and share their stories on MTVu’s website and cable channel for college students.
The network, owned by Viacom Inc., does not provide funding for the scholarships.
“We got involved to create content about social change,” said Stephen Friedman, MTV’s president.
In a video -- played from a projector propped up with a copy of the book “Afghanistan and Pakistan: Conflict, Extremism, and Resistance to Modernity” -- MTVu Fulbright alumnus Andrew Magill described his project in Malawi recording an album about families affected by AIDS.
“Music is truly the closest thing we have to an international language,” said Tom Healy, the chairman of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
The only thing missing at the Fulbright reception was a live band. Other events filled the gap.
At the Historic House Trust of New York City benefit last night Stephen Doyle and his daughter Maud, an editor at Departures magazine, took a spin on the dance floor at Gracie Mansion, the official residence of New York’s mayor, to music by the Bruce Saunders Orchestra.
The New York City Housing Authority jazz band played on the roof of 200 Fifth Avenue on June 11 at a benefit for New York City public programs organized by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, hosted the event. Guests included Ethan Hawke, Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Hollywood force and art collector Michael Ovitz, who helped raise $900,000.
The housing authority supports a choir, an orchestra and a youth basketball tournament through a combination of public and private funds. Encye, a hip-hop clothing label, donated custom-made basketball uniforms, a contribution valued at $260,000.
At a benefit for ArtsConnection also on June 11, the featured act was a steel-pan drum band composed of public-school students.
In the audience: Robert Pruzan, co-founder and partner at Centerview Partners LLC, entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman, Allison Williams, a star of the HBO series “Girls,” and Mark Wahlberg, the actor and producer and one of the event’s honorees (a “get” arranged by ArtsConnection board chairwoman Lisa Plepler, wife of HBO co-president Richard Plepler.)
“They were amazing,” Wahlberg said after posing for photos with the musicians. “It’s so inspiring to see kids gravitate to the arts,” the native of Dorchester, Massachusetts, added. “Most kids in my hood were getting into a lot of trouble.”
Rock ‘n’ Roll
Wahlberg said he has never played the steel-pan drum.
“I play the guitar a little here and there. I was in a few bands, always on vocals,” he said, vaguely harkening back to his rapper days as Marky Mark and with New Kids on the Block.
Literary agent Luke Janklow said playing in a professional rock ‘n’ roll band for more than 10 years “was crucial to my learning how to master something and work hard with others to achieve something special. I reference the work ethic it demanded and demands in all aspects of my life.”
He added: “Most of all, it is pure joy.”
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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