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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.

Sarah is an experienced arts and culture leader who believes in the power of music. Sarah’s leadership will provide members with opportunities to be inspired, to learn, and to connect with colleagues and experts in the classical music field. She has a keen desire to create a sense of belonging for all ACSO members, with appreciation for what it takes to be part of a smaller organization while also respecting the complex challenges faced by larger ones.

In making the announcement, Board President Sean Sutton said, “It was apparent to the entire Board of Directors that Sarah was uniquely suited to serve the organization and its membership, and to advance ACSO’s newly adopted strategic plan. With careful consideration given to identifying candidates that might lead the organization—knowing that many talented individuals in our field might be ready to take on their next challenge—we were fortunate not to have to look any further than our own back yard.”

Sarah’s work for more than fifteen years in the arts and culture sector has been characterized by a focus on organizational health in order to best execute mission-driven initiatives. She’s worked closely with governing boards, participated in multiple strategic planning processes, improved internal infrastructure, and managed departmental budgets, staff, and volunteers.

With a background in museum education and operations, Sarah was previously hired by two major museums as a part of new leadership teams. At both the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix and the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles she created fully functioning education departments from the ground up. Sarah’s leadership set new standards for interpretation and programming and her team was able to provide opportunities for underserved audiences to engage in meaningful arts and cultural experiences that many may have not had otherwise.

“I am honored to have been selected as the new executive director of ACSO,” said Sarah. “This is such an exciting time for growth as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary, and I look forward to working with the ACSO board and staff to continue to expand services and programs for our members.”

Originally from Salt Lake City, Sarah holds a BA in history from the University of Utah and an MA in history and museum studies from Arizona State University. She just completed a nine-month leadership fellowship through the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Sarah is a violinist and has enjoyed playing in youth and community orchestras throughout her life.

Is Your Board Optimized? Learn the Habits of 
Highly-Effective Board Members

Join the League of American Orchestras and ACSO on February 1, 2019 for an exciting leadership development seminar in Los Angeles. Is Your Board Optimized? is presented by the orchestra-savvy, Susan Howlett, author of Boards on Fire! Inspiring Leaders to Raise Money Joyfully.

After attending this workshop, you will leave knowing what highly-effective board members know -- the proven-practices that don't cost money, don't require more time, but result in optimized boards. Perfect for board-staff teams, this practical session addresses the complementary roles board members play in their organization's governance and resource development.

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Speak Up Today to Repeal New Tax on Nonprofits

The comprehensive tax reform provisions signed into law last December include a new requirement for nonprofits to pay Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) equal to 21% of the value of commuting and parking benefits provided to employees. The League of American Orchestras has partnered with the broader nonprofit sector to ask for clarification of the new rules, delayed implementation, and repeal of this unprecedented tax on nonprofit expenses. While no guidance has been issued by the Internal Revenue Service to clarify which benefits are subject to the tax and how to value certain benefits, the new requirements officially took effect beginning on January 1, 2018.

A tax package now under consideration by Congress includes a provision to repeal the new tax on nonprofits. You can take action today by contacting your elected officials to ask them to:

  1. Weigh in with the Treasury Department on your behalf, and ask for a delay in implementing the new tax.
  2. Take legislative action to repeal the new tax on nonprofit parking and transportation employee benefits.

Music for Our Veterans

Note from ACSO: The author of this article, Retired United States Marine Corps Major Brian Dix, was Director of “The Commandant’s Own,” The U.S Marine Drum & Bugle Corps, in Washington, D.C. He is currently an independent conductor and composer in San Diego, California.

It is a pleasure observing various symphony orchestras crafting Veterans Day programs each year on November 11. Having worked with several artistic directors on creating appropriate repertoires, I’ve seen common threads of misunderstanding. They often suggest well-intended selections for our nation’s fallen service members that are more appropriate for a day of solemn and earnest commemoration, also know as Memorial Day. In a nutshell, Memorial Day is a day of “remembrance”; Veterans Day is for the living.

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Up and Down the Scale: September & October 2018

Sharing the latest developments and changes in the professional lives of our members. This edition covers announcements made in September and October 2018.


The Carmel Bach Festival announced the promotion of Michael Beattie to the position of Director of the Virginia Best Adams Masterclass.

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The LA Phil at 100

Note from ACSO: The author of this article, Julia Ward, is the director, development communications and strategy and editor, Past/Forward: The LA Phil at 100 at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She is also on ACSO's Board of Directors.

When the Los Angeles Philharmonic was founded in 1919 by William Andrews Clark, Jr., Los Angeles wasn’t the likeliest place for a professional orchestra to spring up. It was a pioneer town with indigenous roots on the verge of what remains one of the largest population booms in U.S. history. The film industry had set up shop by then as well, and Fatty Arbuckle shorts weren’t doing much for the city’s reputation as a fount of classical art. But Clark and the impresarios who followed were nothing if not aspirational. 

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