Outside In

New Mexico / May 8, 2012 / by Chris
Outside In

This past weekend, we had planned to do a story on the amazing Outside In program, which brings live music and arts to people in prisons, rehabilitation centers, and other spaces where art is usually inaccessible. Tragically, the program’s founder, David Lescht, passed away the day before we were going to meet him and see Outside In in action. Although it will never capture what a video would, I wanted to share a bit about Outside In with you all in the hopes that David’s vision for the program would not only carry on but also inspire others.

Outside In began in 1995, born out of Lescht’s experience playing with the band at his 70s commune. The band, The Brotherhood Band, played at prisons, hospitals, and other institutions starved for music. Seeing how music freed the listeners from their isolation inspired David to continue playing after the band disbanded. From modest beginnings, the program quickly expanded; at its fifteen-year anniversary, Outside In was putting on roughly 600 shows per year, and teaches weekly music and dance classes to at-risk youth through its Youth with Promise program.

It’s clear from the community’s reactions to David’s death what an important part of the community he was. Friends we knew in the area commented on the loss his passing was before we had even been made aware of it; in Santa Fe’s central plaza, the harpist playing that day paused in silence as another community member laid flowers in David’s memory. Our hearts go out to David’s family; we’re sorry we didn’t get the chance to know him personally, but we hope that the amazing work he started will continue to grow in Santa Fe and beyond.