In cities around the globe, there is an exciting movement afoot to share ideas and models that help connect artists more deeply with their communities. From Santiago, Chile, to St Paul, Minnesota, local citizens are partnering with artists to address challenges and make positive change.
This movement isn’t about positioning artists as special outsiders who parachute in with easy fixes, but as neighbours who are one part of a whole set of things a community can do to be healthy. Nor is this movement about artists volunteering their skills, or being asked to contribute their skills “for exposure” – rather, it’s about artists who are justly compensated for their work and skills.
Of course, not all examples in this movement play it this way. But that’s what they should strive for: a point where all participants are valued for their unique contributions. Here are some projects that demonstrate the potential of artists to help create vital and just communities.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra continues to enjoy an uptick in attendance while balancing its budget for the sixth consecutive year.
Last year's season, starting with the inaugural concerts of music director Louis Langrée and guest narrator Maya Angelou, have been a steady crescendo of growing audiences, groundbreaking initiatives and increased donations. And behind the scenes, the orchestra is close to erasing a nagging structural deficit.
Even as many American orchestras around the country are struggling, tens of thousands of people flocked to Music Hall last year to hear Brahms, Beethoven and Boyz II Men. Cincinnati is the smallest city in the nation that still supports a full-time, 52-week orchestra. The nation's fifth oldest orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony is one of just 14 year-round orchestras in America.
"We're on a roll. Attendance is up, contributions are up and our educational initiatives are expanding," said the orchestra's president, Trey Devey. "I think that the orchestra is in great shape with Louis and (Pops conductor) John Morris Russell. Our supporters are energized, our audiences are energized. The success we had last season is another example of the community rallying around the orchestra."
by Janelle Gelfand, email@example.com @Cincinnati.com
Save the date!
Carnegie Hall will present your Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in the spring of 2016. The ASO and ASO Chorus will perform Brahms's "Ein deutsches Requiem" at Carnegie Hall on April 30, 2016. In addition to the ASO, conducted by Robert Spano and our fabulous ASOC, directed by Norman Mackenzie, we take with us captivating soloists: soprano Jessica Rivera and baritone Nmon Ford. Put this event on your calendar, reserve tickets and make travel arrangements. Join your ASO in NYC!
Note: the ASO performance for the spring of 2016 is mentioned toward the end of the NY Times article.
Remembering the legacy of Robert Shaw today.
April 30,1916 - January 25, 1999
Please feel free to share any remembrances of Mr. Shaw in the comments.
The Legacy of Robert Shaw, Music Director (1967–1988)
For twenty-one years Robert Shaw served at the artistic helm of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
When he arrived in Atlanta in August 1967, he found the ASO already in the midst of an effort to upgrade itself. Atlanta’s cultural leaders had long been working toward raising the Orchestra’s budget, extending the length of its season and building a permanent hall for its performances. They turned to Shaw because he was both a musician of international stature in both orchestral and choral realms and a rising conductor who could bring the ASO to prominence as his own reputation grew.
He came in like a whirlwind, presenting ambitious concerts of difficult music, speaking about Atlanta’s need for a conservatory of music, looking for black musicians to play in the all-white orchestra, successfully lobbying to have black members added to the ASO’s Board, and introducing the city to more contemporary music than it had ever heard before. Hard though he may have driven his players and singers, he pushed himself harder. His attention to detail and his capacity for endless hours of score study and preparation were phenomenal. Unlike most high-profile conductors, he had no other orchestra half a globe away, and he accepted few dates to conduct elsewhere. Shaw had come to Atlanta to be Music Director, and he considered it a full-time commitment.
News: Fulton County commissioners maintain $1.5 million funding level for arts in 2015
Among arts advocates who attended, Collins Goss, development manager at Horizon Theatre, spoke about the revenue arts brought to the city. “In 2013 Fulton County gave the arts community $1.5 million for contracts for services and in return the arts community invested $365 million back into the county,” she said. “That is money at our theaters but also at our local restaurants, shops next door, gas stations, everything. To me that is a really incredible return on an investment. We encourage you to maintain those levels.”
Tess Malis Kincaid, an actress, director, teacher and arts administrator who has worked at Georgia Ensemble Theatre for 22 years, spoke about how the arts have made a difference.
“Through my years I have seen the community grow to a great place for arts,” she said. “In Roswell, I have seen the area grow from a quiet suburban city to a best-selling, very artsy one.
“As a teacher I have seen the impact on young people. I have seen families and young professionals who choose to move to the area because of the arts. The arts are the heartbeat of the community.”
After the meeting, Chris Escobar, artistic director of Atlanta Film Festival, expressed relief, commenting that Fulton County has benefited organizations not just from delivering funds but also “in the stability of those dollars: being able to count on those dollars not changing drastically year to year helps a lot in terms of being able to plan and think strategically.
“What was encouraging was they kept it level, despite budgetary hardships we all understand. It’s not easy.”
He was also heartened by the increased recognition and awareness and consideration for the arts and for contracts for services.
Eaves’ website stated that county funding exceeds the state’s contribution. The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies reported that Georgia was dead last in the country for funding for fiscal year 2014 and is projected to remain at the bottom for fiscal year 2015. The agency’s Per Capita State Arts Agency Appropriations chart shows neighboring states faring much better — Florida ranks number 4 for funding, with Tennessee 16, Alabama 23 and South Carolina 32.
News: ASO principal bassoonist Keith Buncke named principal bassoon of Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Houston Grand Opera's Inspiring Performance fund drive breezed past its $165 million goal, attracting $172.9 million.
The campaign, which will support the company's operations and endowment, launched behind the scenes in 2007 and publicly in 2012. It attracted gifts from 6,648 donors, 4,558 of them first-time contributors. The drive ended Dec. 31.
As the money came in, the company said, it helped fund world premieres, new productions of established operas and the company's first staging of Richard Wagner's "The Ring of the Nibelung." The revenue helped the company's annual budget grow from $18.2 million in 2007-08 to $27.8 million in 2013-14.
The company is using $94.2 million for what it terms artistic excellence, such as commissioning operas, creating new productions and performing "Ring." The breakdown of the rest of the money includes:
$17.1 million for the company's endowment. The majority of those pledges have been paid, bringing the endowment's total to about $51 million as of Dec. 31.
$13 million for the Nexus affordability program, which has funded more than 175,000 free or reduced-priced subscriptions and single tickets since 2008.
$11 million for HGOco, whose projects have included the East & West multicultural operas and partnerships with Writers in the Schools and other groups.
$6 million for the Houston Grand Opera Studio training program.
The campaign total includes $31.6 million in bequests the company will receive on their donors' passing.
John Scott Arnoldy, chief executive of Triten Corporation, co-chaired the drive with Albert Chao, chief executive of Westlake Chemical Corporation. Both men serve on Houston Grand Opera's board.
"Thanks to the tremendous generosity of donors from across Houston, the great state of Texas and beyond," Arnoldy said, "Houston will have great opera for years to come, and a stronger future as a great American city."
From the Cleveland Orchestra philosophy
Tradition & Maintaining Excellence Richard Bogomolny Cleveland Orchestra
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an edited transcription of the address delivered by Richard Bogomolny at our inaugural The Future of the Symphony Conference in September 2014. View the VIDEO of this presentation in its entirety.
"Let’s begin with Excellence. We believe that everything we do – every plan we form, every expenditure that we make – must be tested against what that action will do for or against the standard of musical excellence that we have followed for decades. In times of financial difficulty, only those activities not related to what we call being a world-class orchestra may be cut without consent of the board.
"The other thing we believe in is the fact that it’s very hard to play an instrument at the level of the members of our orchestra, how very good the musicians have to be in order to get in in the first place, and how hard they must work in order to stay at that level and to uphold our artistic traditions. While growing up, many of these musicians were thought of as child prodigies in their own communities. It’s been my objective over the years to make sure that the trustees understand and believe that our musicians are special and that they, collectively, are the reason we’re in business.
"We also believe that classical music is not dead, nor will the ability to hear any amount of music free on the Internet bury us. Our unwavering belief is that the live concert experience, with the audience being emotionally involved and connected to music, is enduring. You can ask our musicians and you’ll find that none of them buy into the proposition that classical music is dead."
by James Fink
Buffalo Business First Reporter- Buffalo Business First Email | Twitter
Both on and off stage, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra had a banner year.
According to the just-released "Report to the Community," which covers the orchestra's 2013-2014 fiscal year, the orchestra finished with a significant increase in ticket sales and performed to approximately 200,000 people while seeing its endowment fund surpass the $32 million mark. The BPO's fiscal year ended on Aug. 31, 2014.
Among the highlights from the annual report, ticket sales during the 2013-2014 season topped the $3.367 million mark, a 6.2 percent increase from the $3.170 million tickets sold the previous fiscal years. As recently as the 2010-2011 season, the BPO sold $2.843 million in tickets. Ticket sales cover both classical and Pops series shows.
This morning, we played a short concert at the Capitol where Governor Nathan Deal presented the ASO with a proclamation in honor of the ASO's 70th Anniversary Season. May this be the start of a renewed appreciation and interest for all the Arts in Atlanta and the State of Georgia. Our Arts organizations need support from all our Local governments. This proclamation is a start to what we hope will be recognition that will truly benefit all Georgia arts organizations.
All photos by Jeff Roffman. (4 photos)