Institute of Musical Arts: Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls

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IMAJune Millington was a member of the 1970s’ band Fanny, one of the first all-women rock bands signed to a major label. In 1974, June left the band and, later, met Ann Hackler, who was executive director of the women‘s center at Hampshire College. June and Ann shared a passion for supporting women in music and founded the Institute for Musical Arts (www.ima.org), now in operation for the past two decades. Originally located in California, and now permanently situated in Goshen, Massachussetts, the IMA is an umbrella organization housing a recording studio, a performance venue and a summer rock and roll camp for girls.

Musician Julie Wolf and spoken word artist Alix Olson sat down for a chat with June and Ann to discuss musical herstory, politics, and the construction of alternative feminist spaces.

Alix Olson: What was the impetus for founding IMA?

Ann Hackler: When I was in eighth grade, I read every critique of the public education system that was out at the time. When I was a senior in high school, I designed my own public school system. In Hampshire, I studied a lot of communes. I have always been interested in alternative community and education that’s art-based and progressive.

June Millington: For me, coming from rock and roll—the dark ages for women in music—there was nothing. No women’s centers. No women playing instruments. No mentors. No place to get information. No place to even talk about what it’s like to play in an all-girl band. With women’s music having been set in motion already, IMA came along to facilitate it moving forward through the next generation. It manifested a running, parallel universe. We pretty soon realized that this was going to be an alternative. We had to let go of the idea of establishing an institution like the Berklee School of Music. I mean, that exists, so we’re something else. IMA is very rock and roll in that sense. It has that educational sense to it, but it’s seriously making it up as we go along. And we really do respond to needs that we see arise; we had to let go. We think out of the box. We live out of the box.

AO: So speaking of rock ‘n roll, tell us more about the girls’ camp.

AH: