I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve this organization and this neighborhood. As many of you know, I stepped into this position following the departure of John Romano who served as our president for most of the last decade. Obviously, he’s a tough act to follow, and I’ll have a lot of work to do to keep this organization moving forward. John fostered our evolution from one fledgling children’s music class in Lincoln Wharf nearly 10 years ago to an organization teaching many instruments, languages, theater classes, a thriving early-school arts class and a whole lot more. If you see him on the streets of the North End, stop him, shake his hand and thank him for his tireless efforts on your behalf.

This year, we will also be saying a final thank you to one of our founding board members, Barb Peterlin. Her efforts (and those of the three students who call her mom) helped kick start our wonderful organization. Her energy and insight will be missed around the table. Her enthusiasm for NEMPAC and the Eliot School have paid dividends that our entire community enjoys today. She exists as more proof that one person can make a difference. I have been lucky to work with her.

If losing those two isn’t enough, another board member, Jon Sproul, stepped down a few weeks ago to concentrate on his duties for the City of Boston. Whether he’s working for NEMPAC or the Boston Public Schools, he understands the importance of giving back to his community. He never stops working for you. After bringing us the NEMPAC Bocce Tournament and the North End Music and Film Festival, his efforts have raised the bar on individual effort and I hope we can match his passion.

So, with that, I will have my work cut out for me. Luckily, since NEMPAC is a magnet for talented and passionate individuals, we hope to fill some of those vacancies at our next meeting (November 15) and gear up for our next session.

We at NEMPAC know what we offer is a necessity, providing a quantifiable commodity to our community while adding intangibles to North End life – like self-fulfillment and cultural enrichment – for everyone our organization touches. That has been at the heart of our mission from the beginning. We have provided world-class music education at the most affordable rates possible. We have instructors from the best colleges and universities in New England and the nation. Through our programming and varied activities, we keep challenging our neighbors to explore their creative sides, and to bolster their cultural awareness.

These goals will not change. What may change is the variety of classes we offer. As the arts evolve, we will as well. In the near term, our Executive Director and local organizations have been discussing classes for visual arts. With most things NEMPAC has tried, getting them off the ground is a tricky endeavor, but we are as willing as you are to explore possibilities. With your help and interest in our programs we can do great things.

Also, we are beginning to sketch out our 10-Year Plan. In it, we must address our facilities. In the last decade we have done almost as much as we can with our “satellite campus” model, and despite doubling the size of our headquarters on the Prado, we have nearly outgrown that building again. So if anyone has an aching love for the arts, music and theater, and a few million dollars laying around, we may have some blueprints to show you! Barring that, If anyone wants to help us tackle the smaller tasks of the next decade please drop us a line a info@nempacboston.org.

I thank the NEMPAC board for giving me this opportunity to serve and my community for helping us start our 10th year with such promise!

Matthew Black