Guest Blog Series: If You Do Only One Thing This Season by Aubrey Bergauer

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.   

If You Do Only One Thing This Season
Aubrey Bergauer, Independent Consultant
I recently had a realization. I was working on an upcoming talk I’m going to be giving, and in one of my dry-runs I rattled off a line about how we need to really get our arts marketing into the 21st century. And then it occurred to me: the 21st century is about to be 20% over.  One fifth of the century is behind us come next year. Is that crazy to you? It is to me. All of a sudden this realization felt so urgent. We can’t keep talking about how to update our marketing practices; rather, it’s imperative that we actually do it, because for a lot of our organizations, we’ve wasted nearly the last twenty years only tweaking how things used to be done, while consumer behavior and marketing trends are passing us by. Sadly for orchestras, most of us have the declining revenue numbers to support this thesis.
In a time when there are so many different challenges facing orchestras, if you only do one thing this upcoming season, no matter your budget size, let it be to double down on marketing. I don’t mean update the copy on the copy-filled season brochure (although as an aside, all of our materials would be stronger if we dropped about half the copy and about 99% of the exclamation points…for the love of orchestras, seriously, please stop the forced enthusiasm exclamation points). What I do mean is that now is the time to catch up on what other industries have been doing for the last decade or two. The good news is that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel because we get to emulate what has already proven successful again and again in other sectors, which covers three areas.   

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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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Guest Blog Series: Don't be Afraid to Break Old Habits by Rei Hotoda

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.

Don't Be Afraid to Break Old Habits
I’m someone who loves a challenge, whether it’s learning to conduct a new work or bench pressing 150 pounds. Yes, me. Just shy of 110 pounds was *challenged* recently by my trainer to do just that. While it was difficult, and didn’t think I could do it, I did. It was quite life affirming and opened a whole new mental and physical avenue for me.
Was I afraid? Yes. The thought of pulling something (or worse breaking something) was first and foremost. The thought of doing something that might threaten my career was very real. But, I decided I need to do this, and boy I’m glad I did. Not only did this newness inspire me to hit the gym more, it challenged me to think differently about HOW I go to and experience the gym.
You might be thinking, "What on earth does this have to do with anything music related?" A whole lot actually.
Oftentimes, we, as musicians, music directors, executive directors, boards, get stuck in a rut. We let our creative muscles atrophy.
We—and I count myself in the “we”—are in the habit of repeating our successes, even if they become less successful and stale over time. Season in and season out, presenting and doing the same thing year after year. This is a habit we need to break.
Are we challenging ourselves to offer new experiences or seizing different opportunities to connect to our audiences or new audiences in different ways?
If we want reach new audiences and stay relevant to our communities, we, as creative organizations and musicians, need to make this a priority. Much like I took on lifting 150-pound weights, we need to have the confidence to lift the giant weight of doing things in more creative and inventive ways.
I feel strongly that our arts organizations should serve our communities, and this may mean we need to think and present music differently. Let’s embrace a new “spirit of creativity” that is meaningful to these communities. In my position of Music Director of the Fresno Philharmonic, and as I approach my third season, there is even more momentum to instill this “spirit of creativity” to all that we do. Little by little, program by program.
Always thinking creatively and assessing if there is a rut can be exhausting and unnerving. It can be hard to be honest and even harder still to accept what you find. 
Think of it this way: Say there is a new restaurant in town, but you always had good food at one that you often frequent. You’re hungry and you want to eat, but the thought of being disappointed at a new place is making you avoid something new. So, instead of going to the new restaurant and having some potentially exciting new food, you go to the same old, same old. Did you eat? Yes. Was it good? Yeah, perhaps, but not exciting. However, would you have found a new place to go to and had a new experience? No. (And, for the record, I would always try the new place; I’m a foodie through and through!)
The mark of a good and successful business is its ability to adapt and grow, change and challenge itself. And I firmly believe music is a creative business. As arts leaders, we MUST continue to push our creativity and bring in new ideas!
I truly believe that those in artistic leadership roles should be the role models for our musicians, our boards, our audiences. The fear of failure or experiencing something unsuccessful should not be our first thoughts, and truthfully, they often are. We need to stop looking at change as being a disruptive impediment. We must expand our thinking beyond our monetary value and place the lasting impact in our communities squarely in the driver’s seat.
Don’t worry, I’m not recommending we throw all caution to the wind. I’m just encouraging you to do something, try something different and challenging. No matter how small All it takes is one step. Like we did in Fresno. One small change had a huge impact!
In Fresno, we had a “Meet the Artist Luncheon” series. It was held at the same place and in the same way year after year. While it was attended, the event started to feel stagnant and was not relevant to the dynamic changes that were taking place on stage.
So, we decided to try a new approach. Thanks to my awesome staff – Stephen Wilson and Annie Schmidt  we started holding our luncheons in places in the community that were relevant to what was happening on stage. We formed new alliances and partnerships with these spaces and organizations, opening up and expanding our reach and making many new connections. The result has been overwhelmingly positive.
We broke the habit of always falling back on what we knew, we challenged our creative muscles, and we had a fabulous work out -- and the rewards have been wonderful!
About the Author: Rei Hotoda, the newly appointed Music Director of the Fresno Philharmonic, is rapidly becoming one of America’s most sought after and dynamic artists. She has appeared as a guest conductor with many of today’s leading ensembles, including the Symphony Orchestras of Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Edmonton, Jacksonville, Utah, Toronto, and Winnipeg, as well as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the St. Louis Symphonies, among others. She most recently made her conducting debuts with the Nashville and Asheville Symphonies. Read more here.

Up and Down the Scale: April through June 2019

We are excited to share the latest developments and changes in the professional lives of our members. This edition covers announcements made April through June 2019. If you want to share the administrative, board, or staff member happenings at your organization, send announcements to [email protected]


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ACSO Member Projects Receive Over $400,000 in California Arts Council Grants

The California Arts Council has invested a projected $24.5 million in arts funding for 2019/2020, and it will fund more than 1,300 grants in support of strengthening California’s arts sector. This year's projected total award amount marks an increase of more than $8.1 million over last year's investment and represents the second highest investment in statewide arts programming, surpassed only by the 2000/2001 fiscal year.   

Awarded project designs span the whole of the arts and cultural fields, with funding offered in 14 unique grant program areas. ACSO members have received grants in six categories totaling more than $400,000 for their incredible projects! Please join us in congratulating ACSO members Carmel Bach Festival, Pasadena Symphony, Fresno Philharmonic, Long Beach Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Music in the Mountains, Pacific Symphony, Redlands Symphony, San Bernardino Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, California Symphony, Mill Valley Philharmonic, San Diego Youth Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Santa Monica Youth Orchestra, Golden State Youth Orchestra, and Youth Orchestras of Fresno! More on their projects below, courtesy of the California Arts Council.

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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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Summer Music Festivals Abound in California

Explore Baroque to Contemporary Compositions in Beautiful Settings
Festivals Are a Unique Way to Experience Classical Music

The days are getting warmer and longer, and for classical music fans that means one thing: it's festival season! From June through August, California comes alive with festivals. Each summer, artists from all over the world flock to picturesque California communities to experience a unique blend of music-making, camaraderie, and fun. ACSO is pleased to announce this summer's offerings from our festival members, highlighting a vital and vibrant way for artists and audiences alike to deeply engage in classical music.
No two are exactly alike, yet each shares one common thread: a love and respect for composers, musicians, and the communities in which they are rooted. In every corner of the Golden State, there are opportunities to experience world-class performances and connect with the artists who bring these great works of art to life. The nine festivals below (listed in alphabetical order) showcase a rich and impressive spectrum of live music in delightful destinations. 

Michael Morgan, Bear Valley Music Festival

Bear Valley Music Festival, Bear Valley, July 14-August 4 - Maestro Michael Morgan conducts another dazzling set of concerts in the High Sierra, including Ravel's Tzigane and Florence Price's 2nd violin concerto with soloist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Mozart's Double Piano Concerto with soloists Olga Kern and Vladislav Kern, the Pulitzer-winning musical Of Thee I Sing by George and Ira Gershwin, Beethoven's Fourth Symphony and Fourth Piano Concerto with soloist Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner, and other orchestral favorites. Non-classical concerts include tributes to Carole King and James Taylor, Dolly Parton, Neil Diamond and Billy; (209) 831-0554
Carmel Bach Festival, Carmel-by-the-Sea, July 13-27 - The 82nd season presents more than 40 events, including main concerts and recitals in venues throughout Carmel, Monterey, Seaside, and Pebble Beach. Repertoire includes Haydn's Creation, Bach's Christmas Oratorio, film music including a new work by Mark Mancina, and guest artists Jason Vieaux, guitar, and actress Francesca Faridany who will narrate Mendelssohn's music to A Midsummer Night's Dream.  "The 2019 Carmel Bach Festival celebrates the spirit of creativity with two weeks of concerts centered on artistic and spiritual enrichment, creation and joy!" said Paul Goodwin, artistic director and principal conductor.; (831) 624-1521

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San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra Receives ACSO’s Sinclair Leadership Award

The Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) announced today that the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra is the recipient of the 2019 Kris Sinclair Leadership Award for its successful implementation of a new strategic direction, which has led to impressive growth in concert attendance and community engagement over the past three years.
This award is named in honor of Kris Sinclair, ACSO’s longtime former executive director, and is given to an ACSO Organizational Member that demonstrates recent and measurable 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.
“The San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra is a great example of how orchestras that have been in operation for decades can still continue to evolve and grow and provide relevant and meaningful art experiences for their diverse audiences,” said Sarah Weber, executive director of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras. “In the last few years, the leadership of the orchestra has programmed innovative concerts, provided music education for thousands of at-risk youth, and increased community awareness and ticket sales through expanded media coverage. They did hard work to make a plan for improvement, and that plan is yielding amazing results."
With the Sinclair Award comes a $5,000 prize, which the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra will use to install new software for ticketing and to train staff to effectively utilize the system.

Your Action Needed to Oppose NEA, NEH, and CPB Budget Cuts!

Call to Action from Americans for the Arts:
For a third straight year, the current administration has proposed to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB). It is time to ask Congress—as it has done in the past two fiscal years—to again reject this short-sighted budget request in a bipartisan, bicameral manner, and increase funding for the Endowments. 
Use this easy tool to contact your member of Congress today to urge them to reject the president's proposal.
Saving the cultural agencies happened because thousands of arts advocates made their voices heard on Capitol Hill. Congress not only dismissed these initial calls for termination, but in fact gave steady increases in funding to several cultural agencies. Check out a brief history of budgetary proposals and final funding for these agencies for the past three years. 
Also, be sure to check out Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch's statement regarding the president's budget proposal.


Meet the ACSO staff

We have some new faces at ACSO, so we thought this was the perfect time to (re)introduce the team working for your professional service organization. We asked each team member to tell us what they like most about working at ACSO and what kind of music, classical or otherwise, is their favorite. 

Sarah Weber, Executive Director Some of you may know Sarah in her previous ACSO role as membership and development manager. She stepped into the executive director role in January and is excited to lead the organization into its 50th year and beyond. Sarah’s favorite thing about ACSO is the passion that our members bring to their work and the camaraderie and support they bring to each other. Sarah’s favorite classical composer is Vivaldi because his fiery red hair matches his music, making it the most fun to play.

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Up and Down the Scale: January through March 2019

We are excited to share the latest developments and changes in the professional lives of our members. This edition covers announcements made January through March 2019. If you want to share the administrative, board, or staff member happenings at your organization, send announcements to [email protected]


Festival Mozaic named Jeri Corgill, a Festival Mozaic board member, as interim executive director. With a varied background in finance, public policy, city government, travel and tourism and nonprofit consulting, Corgill will lead Festival Mozaic until the board’s search for a permanent executive director is concluded.

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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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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.

The Johnson Amendment is at Risk Again - Take Action!

The Johnson Amendment is at risk again. This Amendment (passed in 1954) forbids nonprofits from endorsing candidates. We can of course take positions on ballot measures and legislation, but the Johnson Amendment protects us from being pressured to support a particular candidate for Congress, Board of Supervisors, or any other elected office.

Imagine if a major donor asked your organization to publicly support his choice for the Board of Supervisors. Or if a foundation president sent a letter to grantees asking them to publicly oppose the same candidate. The Johnson Amendment protects us from this kind of pressure.

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Wildfire Resources

We send our thoughts and prayers to our members affected by the wildfires in Northern and Southern California. We will update this feed as we learn more from our members. Also, we will share resources with those in need and ways you can help.

Resources for those Affected

ArtsReady is your cultural organization’s online source for readiness resources, and a web application that can make disaster planning easy.

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