Latin Grammys 2018

Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea Equates Removing Music Ed From Schools With 'Child Abuse'

Amy Harris/Invision/AP
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers performs at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival on June 10, 2017 in Manchester, Tenn.

Flea has long had very strong feelings about the importance of providing school children with a strong musical education. The energetic Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist co-founded the non-profit Silverlake Conservatory of Music in 2001 with a group of friends to give private music lessons on orchestral and band instruments and a number of ensemble classes at reasonable prices. The organization also offers scholarships to kids who qualify, providing them free lessons and instruments.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Flea had strong words for politicians looking to cut costs by slashing music-education programs in public schools. "It's child abuse," he said. "It's just wrong." With an eye toward possibly opening another Conservatory in a different Los Angeles neighborhood, he explained that his experience with a free music summer program in Watts made him want to expand his efforts at a time when the Trump administration is making noise about cutting arts funding.

"I worry about a lot of things that that guy says, but that affects my worldview personally," he said of Trump. "It's not just music, but the arts in general -- wanting to cut the NEA... I encourage everybody to reach out into the communities they live in and do what they can to help out. There are people that don't have money, people that don't have food or an education or healthcare. And yes, getting to change things on a fundamental, institutional level is an awesome thing, but we can personally reach out in our communities to do stuff that is profoundly helpful."

Earlier this year, the Trump administration prepared a budget that included plans to seriously curtail funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the government spent $148 million on the NEA in 2016, which amounts to 0.003% of the Federal budget.

The Chili Peppers co-founder, who said he was woken up to the problem in 2000 when he spoke at his alma mater Fairfax Senior High School and found a music room with no instruments, will once again host one of the Conservatory's annual fundraising all-star concerts on Sept. 9 at the school's new space. The event will feature an art auction with works by Thomas Houseago, Alison Mosshart of The Kills, Shepard Fairey, Ed Ruscha and Jonas Wood. 

Among those slated to take part in this year's show are the Chili Peppers, Randy Newman and Anderson .Paak. "We play it almost every year," Flea said. "This year we're going to play acoustic and we're going to be joined by the children's choir from the school." This is the first year the event will take place in the school's new building. 

Click here to read the full RS interview.