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If We Do One Thing During ACCM 2022, Let's Ask for $1 for the Arts

By Sarah Weber, ACSO Executive Director

Do you know that April was officially recognized by the California State Senate as Arts, Culture, and Creativity Month (ACCM) in 2019? Yes, we who work in orchestras and the performing arts can take the month of April to be extra loud and proud about how much our work matters to the diverse identities and well-being of our state and to share the heroic efforts we have gone to over the past few years (and are still going through) to keep making music as an act of service for and collaboration with our communities.

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ACSO and 6 of Our Members Receive Nearly $230,000 in California Arts Council Grants

On September 14, the California Arts Council (CAC) announced a revision to its previous grant award announcement for 2021, awarding more than $11.4 million across an additional 484 grants in project and operational support for nonprofit organizations and units of government throughout the state of California. The update more than doubles the original number of grants awarded, from 441 to 925, and nearly doubles its original award allocation for its first five programs for the 2020-21 fiscal year to $24,490,261.

The decision, approved by the Council at its meeting on August 25, was made in direct response to the arts and cultural field’s ongoing need for support amid the continuing economic threat spawned by the COVID-19 global health crisis. The CAC said its revised allocations accomplish a number of critical goals for the Council: funding hundreds of organizations with strong applications that originally went unfunded; significantly prioritizing funding for small, economically vulnerable organizations; increasing support for BIPOC-led and BIPOC-serving organizations; and protecting the diversity of the arts ecosystem across the state. See the full announcement here.

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Guest Blog: A Practical Arts Education

 Note from ACSO: The author of this blog, Julia Rael was ACSO's 2021-2022 Program and Membership Intern and her internship was generously supported by a grant from the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.

By Julia Rael, ACSO Arts Administration Intern

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Advocacy Call to Action: Your Support Needed for $1 Billion Investment in CA Arts & Culture

ACSO is supporting our colleagues at Californians for the Arts by activating our membership network to join a coalition asking for a transformational $1 Billion investment from the state in the arts, culture, and creative industries and workforce through a series of grant programs from multiple state agencies including SBA, California Arts Council (CAC), and California Cultural and Historical Endowment (CCHE). This investment will address rebuilding the arts and culture ecosystem through jobs recovery, capital improvements, workforce development, and community access to arts.

There are THREE actions you can take before April 28 to help us make some noise about this once-in-a-lifetime chance for California to invest in the arts!

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Lead By Example: A Call for ACSO Board Candidates

If you are a member of ACSO (as an individual or as part of your organization's membership), this is a call for you to directly participate in shaping the field by serving on ACSO’s Board of Directors.

ACSO looks to broaden our board representation by inviting new prospects who reflect our diverse and robust member network. We want to uncover passionate individuals at all career levels who could lend their talents, expertise, and unique viewpoints to ACSO’s Board over the next few years.

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New Resource Guide from the League of American Orchestras: Making the Case for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Orchestras

Developed by our colleagues at the League of American Orchestras and available at no cost to members and non-members of the League alikeMaking the Case for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Orchestras offers concrete answers and practical resources that orchestras can use to advance anti-racism and equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) at all levels of their organizations. Developed in collaboration with a team of peers—orchestra musicians, music directors, board members, and staff—this resource guide is intended to help the orchestra field take action to become more inclusive and welcoming of all people and all differences.
ACSO encourages our members and network to use this incredible free resource as you are navigating key questions around equity and making your case to take action for change. Click here to access the Guide.

Re-Opening the Arts Safely: How You Can Help by Being an Advocate

ACSO is part of a statewide task force, convened by Californians for the Arts, to advocate for re-opening the arts safely. This group is committed to working together in advocacy to educate the state on guidelines needed and sharing resources so that communities across California can begin to access the arts again and we can get back to work.

California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) is drafting outdoor live performance guidelines and looking at aligning live arts performances with movie theater reopening guidelines, but it is up to the California Department of Public Health to issue any guidelines.

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ACSO Celebrates October as National Arts & Humanities Month & Invites Members to Post Their Virtual Events

ACSO joins thousands of arts organizations and communities across the nation to recognize October as National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM). NAHM is coordinated by Americans for the Arts, the national organization working to empower communities with the resources and support necessary to provide access to all of the arts for all of the people. It is a coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of art and culture in America during the month of October, and was launched more than 30 years ago as National Arts Week in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1993, it was reestablished by Americans for the Arts and national arts partners as a month-long celebration with goals of:

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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.