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2018 Youth Orchestra Confab

Sunday March 4, 2018 9:00 am through Sunday March 5, 2017 3:00 pm

Union Bank - Community Room

995 Higuera Street San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

The San Francisco Symphony will host the 2018 Confab on Monday, March 5 from 9AM-3PM at Davies Symphony Hall.

ACSO's annual Youth Orchestra Confab is designed specifically for Youth Orchestra Managers and/or Music Education Directors. It is a time to gather together and discuss a wide range of concerns and ideas such as programming, rehearsal spaces, fundraising, challenges of enrollment, and leadership development. It's a wonderful way to learn from your peers and to brainstorm solutions to common challenges.

Registration Fee: $65 ACSO Members and $75 for Non-Members (fee includes the confab, concert, reception, and lunch).

Learn more at

Questions? Contact us at (800) 495-2276 or

Ask an Expert Fundraising Webinars

Join Kelly Lucera, executive director of the Long Beach Symphony for one or both of these online learning opportunities!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018, at 11 am PT
"Fundraising 101"
Does soliciting donors create stress, invoke fear, or cause anxiety? Learn some easy steps as well as “dos and don’ts” to ensure your fundraising campaign is a huge success! You will leave armed with tried-and-true techniques and a fundraising philosophy that will make you comfortable and ready to grow your organization’s resources. This session is perfect for staff and Board members who want to transform your orchestra and realize your organization's artistic and educational goals.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018, at 11 am PT
"Fundraising 201"
What is a major gift? Do we need a planned giving program? What is the difference between a challenge grant and a matching campaign? If you are beginning to ask these questions, then Fundraising 201 is perfect for you! Learn easy ways to build your fundraising department while helping your donors make a difference by leaving a legacy that will transform your orchestra and realize your artistic and financial dreams!

Click here to learn more and to register.

ACSO is a 2018 Arts Advocacy Day Partner

ACSO is proud to be a Grassroots/Statewide Partner for the 2018 Arts Advocacy Day!

Arts Advocacy Day, hosted by Americans for the Arts, brings together a broad cross section of America's cultural and civic organizations, along with more than 500 grassroots advocates from across the country, to underscore the importance of developing strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts.

The 31st annual Arts Advocacy Day will take place on March 12-13, 2018 in Washington, DC.

ACSO executive director Mitch Menchaca will be in attendance to be one of the many delegates representing California to talk to federal lawmakers and share the stories about the impact and transformative power that the arts and classical music have in their communities and districts. If you will be attending Arts Advocacy Day of have a story you would like us to share in DC, please let us know!

For more information on Arts Advocacy Day, please visit the event’s website.

Update on Members Affected by Wildfires and Helpful Resources

Monday, December 18, 2017

We send our thoughts and prayers to our members affected by the wildfires in Southern California (Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles Counties). 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.

Santa Barbara Symophony

We have been dealing with the Thomas Fire and a significant chunk of the city of Santa Barbara entered into voluntary evacuation yesterday. This area included the Symphony office. While the air is much better today they do not anticipate lifting any evacuations until after we get hit with another wind event on Wednesday. The office is in the heart of downtown and they do not believe their will be any more problems tomorrow as the fire crew is working around the clock to get things in order in the hills.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Ojai Music Festival

"First, many thanks to those of you who have reached out to us during these last 48 hours. I am very happy to report that all the staff is safe, and there was no damage to their homes or to our office.

Our Ojai and Ventura County communities are experiencing loss and devastation from the Thomas Fire. Our thoughts are with all of our Ojai area neighbors, and with those who are tirelessly serving and supporting the affected communities.

Due to the unpredictability of the fires and still potentially dangerous situation, the Festival office is closed. We aim to resume normal business hours on Monday, December 11."

New West Symphony

"Our community is in crisis, with fires blazing throughout Ventura County. In particular, the schools and families, with whom we have grown so close through The New West Symphony Harmony Project of Ventura County, have been hit particularly hard. Our Harmony Project office in Ventura is closed, but our Thousand Oaks office remains open, and if there is any way we can help, please call us at 805.497.5800. We are sending love and prayers to all our friends and community members whose homes are threatened or lost."

Other Members

We have heard from Conejo Vally Youth Orchestra, Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, and Werth-It Consulting that their staff and board members are currently safe.

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.

IRS (the IRS on providing disaster relief to affected employees)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sending our thoughts and prayers to our members affected by the wildfires in Northern California. Here is some information shared by members in Northern California. Also find resources to share with those in need and ways you can help.

Santa Rosa Symphony

Unfortunately the North Bay/Santa Rosa firestorm is and remains a very serious and fluid situation.

Staff-wise and musicians, everyone is safe though many have had to evacuate, as have I, to safer areas, waiting to hear about our homes. We are tremendously saddened that at least one staff member, a musician and several board members have lost their homes.
Our offices remain closed as our phone system and internet remain down, so I am emailing you remotely.

So deeply sorry that I had to cancel the Monday night concert. Fortunately we were able to communicate cancellation to musicians and help those who needed to get back into the Green Music Center to get their instruments. GMC is safe from fire. Thankfully guest conductor and our soloist Joyce Yang were safely taken to SF. The Luther Burbank Center, our other venue, has been damaged but I understand the main hall remains intact.

So in all honesty it is a surreal situation still unfolding. Grateful for the outpouring of support.

Eventually we will come together and persevere. Until then we are looking to take care of each other.

Alan Silow, president & CEO
Santa Rosa Symphony

Music in the Mountains

Due to Cal Fire needing to set up a command post and fire camp at the Nevada County Fairgrounds for the Lobo Fire, Friday night's concert "Brahms First Symphony" has moved to the Don Baggett Theatre @ Nevada Union High School, 11761 Ridge Rd, Nevada City. Advance tickets will be honored.

Napa Valley Performing Arts Center, Lincoln Theatre

Our thoughts are with the Napa Valley and surrounding communities as we continue to experience wildfires. We have received a number of inquiries and want to update everyone - Lincoln Theater has been fortunate and has not sustained any damage. However, our hearts go out to those who have been affected across many North Bay counties.

Napa Valley Youth Symphony

With the continued unpredictability of the fire situation, we will be cancelling this Sunday's scheduled concert. Everyone take care of yourself and we'll make music together soon.

Advocacy Alert: Tax Bills and California Orchestras

New Tax Bills Could Jeopardize Orchestras

To pass tax reform before year-end, both the House and Senate recently passed separate but similar tax bills. Unfortunately, both versions of the tax bill would have a negative impact on charitable giving.

Because both the House and Senate tax bills propose doubling the standard deduction, access to specific incentives for income tax deductions of gifts to charity become severely limited to only the top five percent of taxpayers who itemize their deductions. The charitable sector had actively supported the idea of a Universal Charitable Deduction so that the incentive to give to charities would be available to both itemizers and non-itemizers. However, Universal Charitable Deduction proposals offered by Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) and James Lankford (R-OK) never made it into the final bill nor were given an opportunity for a floor vote.

Unfortunately, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that charities, including nonprofit arts organizations, could see a staggering loss of up to $20 billion annually as a result of this tax policy change.

Because the House and Senate passed bills that are not the same, they now need to work out these differences. So tax reform is not over yet. That means there is still time to act.

The simplest and best way is to telephone your Congressmember and Senators.

  1. Call the Capitol switchboard (202-224-3121) and follow the prompts to be connected with the office where you want to leave a message. It will take about two-minutes.
  2. To find out who your Congressmember is, click here and input your orchestra's (or your) zip code. To contact Senators Feinstein and Harris, click here.
  3. Once connected, identify yourself as a someone who lives and/or works in their district and let them know you oppose the tax bill.

You can see a detailed comparison of the House and Senate bills here.

2018 Annual Conference Call for Sessions

We want to hear your ideas! ACSO invites you and your colleagues to submit conference breakout sessions. This three-day convening is planned around your needs and in response to industry challenges and trends. It is designed to focus on skill-building and to facilitate collaboration, exploration, and connections on multiple levels.

Visit our Call for Session Submission Form to submit your ideas; anything from fully planned sessions to just sending along a speaker suggestion.

Questions? Contact us at or at 800-495-2276. Submissions are due Friday, December 15, 2017.

ACSO Communities in Crisis Concert Fund

The ACSO Communities in Crisis Concert Fund has been established to support communities throughout the state and region that have been affected by natural disasters and other tragedies and are coming together to heal through the power of music.

The purpose is to provide our members with funds to help offset the production costs associated with special relief concerts that they are staging to bring the community they serve closer and cope with the significant crisis they are facing.

Our inaugural efforts go to support our members in the North Bay Area affected by wildfires, including the Santa Rosa Symphony's November 20 Community Concert. The concert will be free to the public and all proceeds will go to the North Bay Fire Relief Fund.

Learn more and donate at

Upcoming Fire Relief Concerts:

Sunday, November 19, at 7:30 PM
San Francisco Symphony
Davies Symphony Hall, 201 N Van Ness, San Francisco
(415) 864-6000

In response to the devastating Northern California wildfires last month, the San Francisco Symphony is proud to present Symphony Relief: A Benefit Concert for the North Bay. This special event—featuring Michael Tilson Thomas and the SF Symphony and SF Symphony Chorus, along with a special lineup of guest stars—showcases a program of iconic works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Copland, and more.

The SF Symphony family is dedicated to helping our neighbors to the north. Michael Tilson Thomas, the SF Symphony musicians, the Chorus, special guests, and the stage crew, ushers, and Box Office staff are proud to donate their services on a volunteer basis, with all proceeds benefitting the North Bay Fire Relief Fund and the Sonoma County Resilience Fund.

Monday, November 20, at 7:30 PM
Santa Rosa Symphony
Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center
(707) 546-8742
Tickets not available online

Responding to the enormous need in the community it has been a part of for 90 years, the Santa Rosa Symphony, with support from Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center, will present a Free Fire Relief Benefit Concert on Monday, November 20, 2017 at 7:30 pm.

Conductor Emeritus Corrick Brown joins Music Director Bruno Ferrandis for this special event, which will also feature Conductor Laureate Jeffrey Kahane playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The program also includes Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Eglar’s “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations and Beethoven’s highly-praised Symphony No. 3, Eroica.

Donations collected at ticket reservation and at the concert support Redwood Credit Union’s North Bay Fire Relief Fund, Community Foundation Sonoma County's Sonoma County Resilience Fund and Sonoma State University’s Noma Gives (which supports affected students, staff and faculty). The Symphony thanks the orchestra, conductors, ushers and stage crew for donating their time and talent.

Please join the Symphony on November 20 in Weill Hall, Green Music Center, for an evening shared with good friends, good will, heartfelt giving and excellent music. We are, indeed, stronger together. #SonomaStrong

Admission to this benefit concert is free (2 tickets per household), though requested donations are accepted at time of reservation and at the concert. Lobby opens at 6:30 pm.

ADVOCACY ALERT: Congress Tax Reform Bill Impacts Charities

Republican leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee pushed through the release of their official tax reform bill H.R. 1 in Congress today to overhaul the American federal income tax system. While it will take several days to fully analyze this 429-page bill and its potential impact on charitable giving, nonprofit organizations and professional artists, we encourage you to continue checking this page frequently as we post updates and further analysis.

Topline Proposed Change:
The charitable deduction is severely compromised by limiting the charitable tax deduction to only the highest income taxpayers. 

The Solution:
Encourage your Senators and House members to include a “universal charitable deduction” to the tax reform bill so that all taxpayers (not just the highest income individuals) are encouraged to give to their favorite charities and make the contributions a tax-deductible gift.

ACSO is a member of the Arts Action Fund. Click here to learn more about this issue.



ACSO Launches New Professional Development and Discussion Forums

ACSO is excited to launch new Professional Development and Discussion Forums.

These regional forums combine educational experiences with peer networking during an informative 45-60 minute workshop or roundtable at a low cost for attendees. They will also capture your ideas, thoughts, and opinions on how ACSO can better serve you, our membership, through a consultant-led discussion as part of our strategic planning process, which will help shape the future direction of the association.

ACSO will present four forums at locations spread around the state, and one online session for those who cannot attend an in-person convening.


November 3 - San Luis Obispo

November 8 - Pasadena

November 16 - Irvine

November 17 - Walnut Creek

November 20 - Online

All members and prospective members are invited to attend. Registration is now open and the registration fee is $20 for members and $30 for non-members for each in-person forum (fee includes professional development offering, networking and listening session, and refreshments).

Click here to learn more about each session and to register!

October is Arts and Humanities Month

ACSO joins thousands of arts organizations and communities across the nation to celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month. We dedicate this month’s California Concerts to the celebration. This month’s listing showcases 84 concerts and represents members in 25 California counties, as well as members in Arizona and Nevada! How are you celebrating National Arts and Humanities Month?

Learn more about National Arts and Humanities Month at