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New ACSO Leadership Elected for 2020/21

At ACSO's Annual Meeting held at the 2020 Annual Conference Online on August 14, ACSO members elected five new board members and re-elected two renewing board members, welcomed new officers for 2020/21, and said farewell and thank you to several outgoing board members.

BOARD Officers for 2020/2021

Alice Sauro, President
Executive Director
Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera

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NEA Awards CARES Act Grants to 10 ACSO Member Orchestras

On July 1, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced federal grants of $50,000 each to support personnel and facilities costs for 63 orchestras nationwide, including 10 orchestras in the ACSO membership network, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress designated $75 million of funding for the NEA to administer within the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020.

The Endowment's grant announcement describes the broad distribution of awards among small, medium, and large organizations, and across locations that are urban, rural, and in-between. Out of more than 3,100 eligible applications, available funding supports 855 grants. "All of us at the National Endowment for the Arts are keenly aware that arts organizations across the country are hurting, struggling, and trying to survive and that our supply of funding does not come close to meeting the demand for assistance," said Arts Endowment Chairman Mary Anne Carter. "That said, I am enormously proud of the over-and-above efforts of the Arts Endowment staff to swiftly and professionally manage such a large amount of additional work in a relatively short period of time on behalf of the American public."

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Our Values and Commitment

At ACSO, we stand for equity and inclusion and against racism and injustice. We value the lives of the Black community, including the musicians, board and staff members, donors and supporters, and audiences within our membership network.

We value our members' ongoing work to bring music into the world that uplifts, unites, heals, and liberates. One such example is this incredible 130-member virtual performance by the Oakland Symphony of the classic Bill Withers song “Lean on Me.”

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NEA Announces CARES Act Funding Guidelines

On April 8, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced its guidelines to swiftly distribute funding to nonprofit arts organizations from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to preserve jobs and help support organizations forced to close operations due to the spread of COVID-19.

With the $75 million appropriated to the NEA through the CARES Act, the Arts Endowment will award 40% of the funds directly to state and regional arts agencies by April 30 to distribute through their funding programs. Sixty percent of the funds are designated for direct grants to nonprofit arts organizations all across the United States. The deadline to apply directly to the NEA is April 22, 2020 with the earliest announcement of grant award or rejection by June 30. 

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Calling All ACSO Members to Participate in Virtual Arts Advocacy Day on April 15

Join ACSO and your art colleagues all around the state at Virtual Arts Advocacy Day on April 15, organized by Californians for the Arts, and raise your voice for the arts. Now more than ever we need to learn how to be effective and informed advocates to protect public funding for the arts.

A full day of activities has been planned or you can jump in and out of sessions as you like. ACSO Executive Director Sarah Weber will be participating in a panel at 11 AM called "Get to Know Your Statewide Advocacy Organization."

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Message from Sarah Weber, ACSO Executive Director: What We Do For Each Other

The past two weeks have likely been some of the most challenging of our personal and professional lives. Everything that we knew for certain became uncertain. Every activity we engaged in stopped. The people we saw every day are now distant. And live performance of orchestral and classical music has ceased indefinitely.

But even under these circumstances, none of you have given up. Even though every orchestra and ensemble in our membership network has had to cancel or postpone concerts, education programs, and fundraising galas, you have not quit.

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Governance Seminar: Building Board Champions for Your Orchestra

Event Postponement and update from the League of American Orchestras as of March 11, 2020:

This event has been rescheduled due to concerns of health and safety of everyone involved. Our decision to reschedule has been based on our understanding of the stringent policies and guidelines for "social distancing" put in place by the Mayor of San Francisco and their Department of Health, the guidance we are receiving from the Centers for Disease Control concerning travel and large group gatherings, and our conversations with seminar registrants.

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Raise Your Voice for the Arts! Arts Advocacy in California - April 14 & 15

Event postponements and update from Californians for the Arts as of March 12, 2020:

Out of an abundance of caution and to align with current public health recommendations regarding COVID-19, we’ve made the difficult decision to postpone the ACCM 2020 Convening on April 14, 2020 to the Fall in Sacramento and produce a Virtual Arts Advocacy Day on April 15, 2020. Read the full announcement here

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Guest Blog Series: Your Orchestra’s Value and Financial Health Depend Upon Your Community by Amy Williams

Note from ACSO: Our membership network is full of incredible people with a wealth of life experiences, talents, and diverse perspectives and backgrounds. We want to share their insights, points of view, and wisdom with all of you, as well as raise the voices of individuals who are making a difference for the classical music field. Our guest blog series features people from different communities throughout California and the western region, from different sizes and types of classical music organizations, and with different jobs and responsibilities. They will share what they have learned, express their opinions about the sector, and ask challenging questions that will help us shift our thinking and be better advocates for this art form that we all love.
Your Orchestra’s Value and Financial Health Depend Upon Your Community
Amy Williams, Managing Director, Camerata Pacifica

Recently I have been seeing too many arts organizations put community impact and financial stability in two separate buckets. They think that serving their entire community comes at a high financial price, but this does not need to be the case. What if, instead, this misconception is flipped and it turns out that serving your entire community, BOTH those who attend and support your orchestra (the converts) and those who don’t (the skeptics), actually helps your financial stability.

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ACSO Welcomes a New Member to the Team

We are thrilled to welcome Ben Kutner as our new Membership and Development Manager.
Ben has a background in classical music administration and music composition. Originally from New York, he founded the New Parnassus Ensemble there and served as its artistic director and chief administrator. His own music has been performed across the U.S. and he has written about classical music for various publications.
Ben said, "Since moving to California, I've found the classical music scene to be open to new approaches, committed to contemporary music, and dedicated to increasing the diversity in our field. It's exciting to be here."

Upcoming ACSO Member Mixer in Sacramento - February 10

Monday, February 10
 from 4:30-6:30 PM

58 Degrees & Holding Co., 1217 18th St., Sacramento
Click here to RSVP
Start the new year on the right foot by catching up with your colleagues over a glass of wine. Join ACSO for an informal mixer at a popular wine bar, 58 Degrees & Holding Co., in the heart of midtown Sacramento. You’ll have the opportunity to network with one another and become better acquainted with the board and staff of your professional association.  

There will not be any formal presentations - just some words of welcome from ACSO leadership and lots of mingling and connecting with your peers in the classical music community. And if you or your organization are not yet members of ACSO, this is a perfect opportunity to learn more about our member services and network.
The mixer includes hors d’oeuvres provided by ACSO and a no-host bar. It is free to members and not-yet-members. Secure your spot today!

Special Report from Californians for the Arts: AB5 and the Arts Industries

As you may know, Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) was signed into law in September and goes into affect on January 1, 2020, making it more difficult for employers to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees.
In the past few months many of ACSO's members have reached out to us with concerns about how this law will impact the way they currently employ contract educators, musicians, production support, and many other types of workers. We know many of you rely on contractors to carry out your missions and programs and to bring classical music to your communities. We have heard your concerns and we have been in ongoing communication about them with Californians for the Arts, our statewide arts advocacy organization, and California Arts Advocates, their lobbying arm.
Last week, Californians for the Arts issued an important report summarizing their efforts over the past year to draft exemption language for AB5 on behalf of performing arts workers. And even though the bill passed without as much support and clarity for the arts sector as we all wanted, they are still working to advocate and educate the legislature on the ways that arts do business in California and to hopefully seek corrections and add exemptions to the bill.
But they need our help. Here are three things you should do right away:

  1. Take a short survey to share data with Californians for the Arts about how AB5 will impact your organization. This will help them with case-making.
  2. To stay informed about this issue, read a white paper that Californians for the Arts contributed to that clearly explains the background of AB5, how it could impact arts nonprofits, why worker classifications matters, and how organizations can comply.
  3. Sign up for a free webinar on December 3 at 10:00 AM PST called Dealing with the Drama: How the New Independent Contractor Law Affects the Arts Community with attorneys Vida Thomas and Bryan Hawkins. Californians for the Arts is also conducting workshops and town halls about AB5 all around the state. Click here for more information.

Also, consider joining with ACSO by becoming a member of Californians for the Arts. They advocate and lobby at the state capital for all of us to raise public awareness of the importance of the arts, to increase state funding levels, and to influence legislation that will benefit the arts.
There could be more changes to AB5, including cleanup language and new exemption in the future. ACSO will continue to work closely with Californians for the Arts and share with our members the latest developments.

Legislative Updates on SB 1343 and AB 5

ACSO has been tracking two pieces of legislation that could have a big impact on orchestras and other classical music organizations in California. The latest developments are outlined below.

SB 1343 - Employers: Sexual Harassment Training Requirements
On August 30, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 778, extending California employers’ obligation to provide employees with sexual harassment training from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021. This means your organization now has an additional twelve months to comply with the recently legislated sexual harassment training requirements laid out in SB 1343. Click here for more information on the extension, courtesy of the National Law Review. Click here to learn more about the original legislation and the training requirements. Please note that SB 1343 was passed into law a year ago and SB 778 extends the timeframe in which the training must be carried out.   

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New ACSO Leadership Elected for 2019/20

At the ACSO Annual Meeting held at the 2019 Annual Conference in Monterey on August 8, ACSO welcomed four new board members, re-elected a board member, elected officers for 2019/20, and said farewell to several outgoing board members. New board members include:

Loribeth Gregory-Beck currently serves as the Director of Education & Community Engagement at the Santa Barbara Symphony, where she oversees programs and cultivates community partnerships. With experience as a teacher, arts administrator, and in business management, Loribeth brings a breadth of knowledge and practice to her work in education. At the Los Angeles Philharmonic, she led the Young Composer Programs (Composer Fellowship Program, National Composers Intensive) and projects for the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), through which she worked with prominent artists in the classical music industry, such as Andrew Norman, Gabriela Ortiz, Tania León, and the International Contemporary Ensemble, and prepared students for performances at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hollywood Bowl, and Ojai Music Festival. In addition to her work in music education, Loribeth has presented original research papers at conferences for the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Association for Asian American Studies. Loribeth earned an M.A. in Ethnomusicology from University of California, Riverside, where she was a lecturer, and a B.A. in Music, magna cum laude, and a minor in Anthropology from Webster University. 

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Sexual Harassment Training Now Required for all Organizations with 5 or More Employees; For Orchestras, This Includes Musicians

Last year the California legislature passed SB 1343 expanding the requirement for who has to be trained on sexual (and other) harassment issues, largely in response to the #MeToo movement. Previously, only supervisors had to complete the training, and it was only required for organizations with 50 or more staff members. Now it is required for all employees in organizations with five or more paid staff. Since the bill includes temporary or seasonal employees, it means that orchestras must ensure that paid musicians receive the training as well.
The required training has to be completed by January 1, 2020. The training must meet certain standards and must be repeated every two years. New employees must be trained within six months of hire or promotion to a supervisory position. Non-supervisor training is a one-hour session; supervisor training is a two-hour session.
Organizations with five or more employees will also need to update their employee manuals with the training requirements and anti-harassment and retaliation policies, plus post updated notices and hand out the California sexual harassment brochure (all available here). 
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing will be developing sexual harassment trainings by the end of the year, but those are not yet available.
In the meantime, there are many vendors and companies that provide the training. If your organization is a member of CalNonprofits, as ACSO is, your supervisors can take the required harassment training for free and your non-supervisory staff can get discounts on the required training. Learn more here. 

NEA Awards $130,000 in grants to ACSO and Seven of its Members

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced $80.4 million in grants as part of its second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2019. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $15,000 to the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) to support its 2019 Annual Conference which provides professional development for orchestra staff and board members.

“Reflecting the diverse artistic richness of our nation, these Arts Endowment-funded projects are varied in their size, scope, and artistic discipline,” said Arts Endowment Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “The projects also illustrate the unique geographic reach of Arts Endowment funding, serving Americans in places large and small in all corners of the country.”

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NEA Funds ACSO Organizational Members and Announces Upcoming Grant Deadlines

Eight ACSO Organizational Members have been awarded $275,000 in Art Works, Part 1 and Challenge America grants by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in the first round of major grant funding in the 2019 fiscal year. Direct grants from the NEA are a crucial form of support for many community-based arts organizations, enabling grantees to leverage additional financial support from state, local, and private sources.

Art Works Grant, Part 1

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Kris Sinclair Leadership Award Applications Due March 8

The Kris Sinclair Leadership Award is given to an ACSO Organizational Member that demonstrates recent successful leadership initiatives by its staff and/or board in one or more of the following areas: finance, governance, staff development, audience development, education, or community engagement.

This $5,000 award is made possible by the Kris Sinclair Fund for Professional Development, consisting of contributions made in Kris Sinclair's name to support professional development and technical assistance offered by the ACSO. Sinclair was the executive director of the Association for 31 years and provided members with technical assistance, professional development opportunities, and consultation on a myriad of orchestra management topics.

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April is Officially Arts, Culture, and Creativity Advocacy Month in California

Californians for the Arts has announced that starting in 2019, April will officially be Arts, Culture and Creativity Month in the state of California and April 23 will be Advocacy Day in Sacramento. ACSO joins with our arts partners around the state in supporting these efforts. 

Visit Californians for the Arts' website to learn more about what we are advocating for and how you can get involved. One of the best ways to make the case for supporting the arts is to share your Arts Impact Stories. Submissions will help bring public awareness of the importance of the arts; to ensure that the arts are an ongoing part of the public dialogue; and to encourage Californians to care about the arts as a critical component of their own lives and the lives of their communities.

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ACSO Board Appoints Sarah Weber as Executive Director

The Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Sarah Weber has been selected as the association’s new Executive Director. She began her tenure in that role on January 1, 2019.

For the past two years, Sarah has served as ACSO’s Membership and Development Manager. During that time, she has executed membership renewal campaigns, written successful grant proposals, and secured corporate and individual donations. She has been a partner in program planning, managed the delivery of member services, and played a key part in producing ACSO’s signature annual conference. Her enthusiasm for inviting and growing individual participation, maintaining organizational continuity, and directing energy towards purposeful work and accomplishment will serve ACSO and its membership extraordinarily well as the organization prepares to celebrate its 50th Anniversary.

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