Music Education Advocacy Alert: House Votes on Friday!

February 25, 2015

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on proposals to rewrite our nation's education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Hundreds of orchestra advocates weighed in on a Senate draft ESEA bill last month, urging support for more equitable access to music education.  It's now time to reach out to your member of Congress to deliver these key messages:

  1. The arts are currently listed as a core academic subject in federal law. Any rewrite of ESEA must retain the arts in the definition of "core academic subjects," enabling access to critical federal resources that address inequalities and strengthen education.
  2. Federal law should require transparency in how much or how little arts education is being offered to our nation's students. Collecting and publicly reporting the status and condition of arts education and other core academic subjects on an annual basis at the state level is critical to ensuring equitable access to a comprehensive education for all students.
  3. Arts education must be supported in provisions relating to early childhood education, afterschool/out-of-school learning, teaching effectiveness, school turnaround, charter schools, and student assessment.
  4. The U.S. Department of Education should continue to administer a direct, nationally funded competitive Arts in Education grant program that advances the capacity of the arts to strengthen learning and improve teaching.

The House majority's ESEA proposal (HR 5) recommends broad changes to the federal leadership role in education reform, and an alternative developed by House Democrats is likely to also be considered on the House floor. The vote on each measure is expected to largely take place along party lines. Members of Congress will be paying attention to what matters to their constituents, so a message sent by you today will inform ongoing education reform discussions.  

Your message to your elected official will have the most impact if you customize it to include details about the urgent need for improved access to arts education in your community.

The League is partnering with dozens of national arts and arts education organizations in advancing the four key messages above. Please contact your members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Click here to customize and send an email by this Friday, February 27, and urge support for the arts in ESEA reauthorization!

Urge Congress to Support Arts Education in our Nation's Education law!

Contact Congress Today


Please direct any related questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , vice president for advocacy, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , director of government affairs & education advocacy.

The League is a member of the Performing Arts Alliance, a coalition of national performing arts service organizations dedicated to advocating for national policies that recognize, enhance, and foster the contributions the performing arts make to America.

Volunteer Notes, Winter 2015

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Volunteer Notes Winter Issue 2015
Mission - The Volunteer Council in partnership with the League of American Orchestras strives to lead, advocate, encourage, support, and serve our member orchestras and their volunteers.
In this issue:

Notes from Margarita Contreni, Volunteer Council President
If you thought the tempo in 2014 was molto allegro, 2015 may well be prestissimo!
margaritacontreni(1).pngThe Volunteer Council is moving forward quickly with plans for volunteers for the 2015 National Conference in Cleveland on May 27-29. You will enjoy reading the announcement of the Gold Book Award-winning volunteer projects as well as the additional information on Conference in the articles below. On-line registration for Conference is officially open as of last week, and can be accessed through the League of American Orchestras’ Conference website . We look forward to seeing you in Cleveland!
The Council also is participating in the League’s strategic planning process. Launched this past October by the League’s Board of Directors, the process includes the following goals:
  • Address our field’s issues head-on and lead orchestras through continuous learning and change;
  • Understand orchestras better, the context in which they operate, and both the threats and opportunities they have; and
  • Determine strategies that will help the League guide the field to a sustainable future.
We will meet with Jesse Rosen, president and CEO, League of American Orchestras, on February 23rd in New York City.  Volunteers have deep and broad connections within our communities, and we look forward to sharing our volunteer perspective on these critical topics. 
We learned a lot about specific challenges and creative solutions from volunteers who participated in our Strategic Conversation conference calls held this past fall, and I would like to personally thank the 13 volunteer presidents and presidents-elect who participated:
  • Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Guild – George Keck
  • Atlanta Symphony Associates – Glee Lamb
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra Volunteer Council – Deborah Savoie
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Volunteer Committee – Harry Lane
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic Affiliates – Sheri Gill
  • Nashville Symphony Orchestra League – Keith McLusky and Donna Yurdin
  • Oklahoma City Orchestra League – Deanna Pendleton
  • Seattle Symphony Volunteer Board – Richard Mori and Carmen Spofford
  • Symphony Guild of Charlotte – Mary Staton
  • Williamsburg Symphonia League – Cynthia Southworth
  • Women’s Symphony League of Tyler – Linda Rowe
A special thanks as well goes to my Volunteer Council colleagues who co-hosted the Conversations, Linda Weisbruch and Camille Williams, and our ardent supporter at the League, Samara Ungar!
All best wishes to each of you for a new year filled with joy and adventure!

League of American Orchestras National Conference, May 27-29, 2015
Leaders of orchestra volunteer organizations in the United States and Canada are invited to come to Cleveland May 27 – 29, 2015, for the League of American Orchestras’ National Conference. Hundreds of music lovers, makers, performers, trustees, volunteers, and members of the orchestra community will converge on this beautiful city by the shores of Lake Erie to learn and experience current challenges, latest practices, and more in the orchestra world.
A uniquely crafted volunteer track, planned by the League's Volunteer Council, will offer opportunities to share best-practices for fundraising, membership, music education, service, and community engagement projects among volunteer organizations of all sizes. Learn about the best of the best projects, presented by Gold Book Awards of Excellence recipients. Network with fellow volunteers every step of the way - in meetings, during lunches, around dinner tables, or sipping a cocktail.
Online registration and hotel reservations are now open. The Conference will be held at the newly renovated Cleveland Convention Center, with The Westin Cleveland Downtown and the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center serving as the Conference hotels.
While in Cleveland, hear the acclaimed Cleveland Orchestra at the beautiful Severance Hall, visit The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, stop by the Happy Dog Tavern where members of The Cleveland Orchestra have been known to perform late night sets, and see a collection of great artistic institutions at University Circle. The parks will be blossoming, the museums filled with art, and the neighborhoods welcoming visitors with open arms.
In performances at home and around the globe, The Cleveland Orchestra remains one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world, and Northeast Ohio's most visible international ambassador.
Each year the League of American Orchestras’ Conference offers the opportunity to share innovative ideas, make friendships from around the country, and learn about project structures - all for the love of music. This May, join us in Cleveland for what promises to be another great Conference!
For more information, visit the 2015 Conference website.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It! 
Uniteed Airlines is pleased to offier special discounts on flights to Cleveland for the League of American Orchestras' National Conference.
You may book online at www.united.com and enter code ZUGE410936 in the offer code box when searching for your flights.
If booking through a travel professional or United Meetings at 800 426 1122, please give them the following information:
Agreement Code: 410936
Z Code: ZUGE
Outside the United States, please call your local United Airlines Reservation Office.

2015 Gold Book Awards of Excellence Winners: Great Ideas for Your Volunteer Association
Innovation, volunteer involvement, return on investment, and impact are the primary criteria the Volunteer Council utilizes to evaluate volunteer projects submitted each year to the League’s volunteer project website, goldbookonline.org. Eleven projects will be recognized as winners of the Gold Book Awards of Excellence and presented at Conference in May 2015. 

The 2015 winning organizations and their projects are:
  • Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild of Bloomington-Normal (IL): Girl Scout Workshop: Would you like to build audience for your orchestra, enrich a Girl Scout’s musical experience, and contribute to your community? This workshop will prepare you to conduct an engaging and fun Girl Scout Musician Badge workshop.
  • Houston Symphony League (TX): Houston Symphony Centennial Ball: A fundraiser that served as the culmination of a yearlong celebration of the Symphony’s 100th anniversary.
  • Symphony Guild of Kansas City (MO): Intermezzo Candlelight Tour: Majestic. Musical. Memorable. A holiday symphony for the senses. A candlelight tour of a one-of-a-kind home, including cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and musical entertainment.
  • Mid–Peninsula League of the San Francisco Symphony (CA): Symphony in Flowers: The MPL brings the garden inside. Learn how they nurtured and “grew” this event which originally supported one classroom of students attending the San Francisco Symphony to more than 350 students attending.
  • Women’s Committee for the National Symphony Orchestra (DC): Sound Health Instrument Petting Zoo: It is believed that the power of music helps in the healing process of the ill, injured, and wounded. The hospitals have requested this program as often as possible.
  • Forte, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (WI): The Emerald City Soiree: There’s no place like home! Hear how the iconic film “The Wizard of Oz” with live orchestral accompaniment made for one sparkling gala. Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!
  • Oklahoma City Orchestra League (OK):  SkyBall Wine Pull: “It takes money to make money” – not this time! Add this unique fundraising element to your next big event. It’s full of glamour and surprises!
  • Waco Symphony Council (TX): Celebrate Waco’s Sharp Flat Loft Tours: If you want to attract a bigger audience sometimes you need to go where that audience is!  We transformed our fundraising efforts to showcase our symphony and raised money by celebrating our downtown’s resurgence!
  • Symphony Guild of Charlotte (NC): Guild 101: How do you educate new members?  Learn about a planned training program that focused on four goals and found the right mix of fun, friendship, and learning.
  • Symphony League of Kansas City (MO): “Concerto a Venezia” Symphony Ball: Having a ball? Fearless strategies to increase fundraising and new fans.
  • Women’s Symphony League of Austin (TX): Austin Symphony Youth Leadership Council: A new fundraising idea that parents find irresistible! Tap into a hot topic for teens and raise money too!
You won’t want to miss learning about these award-winning projects. Join us at Conference and take home great ideas to share with your volunteer association! 

 Orchestras' Impact Profiled in League's New Story Bank 
How do orchestras serve their communities? As orchestra volunteers, we believe that they do, but often struggle to put into words that service. The League’s new online Story Bank is a public resource showcasing first-person perspectives on the powerful impact of orchestras. Health care providers, parents, musicians, orchestra administrators, and students are all spotlighted in a regularly updated array of videos, articles, and infographics, all showing the many ways in which orchestras serve communities.
 What’s on the Story Bank right now?
  • A healthcare administrator discusses how Hartford Symphony Orchestra musicians help patients with dementia.
  • Parents describe how Allentown Symphony Orchestra’s El Sistema Lehigh Valley program directly affected their kids’ behavior and grades.
  • A music therapist talks about how a teen cancer patient was motivated by Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians.
  • Students describe how the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory’s Community Opus has improved their lives.
  • Seattle Symphony musicians, Native artists, and Seattle-based composer Janice Giteck provide an in-depth look at Seattle Symphony’s collaborative Native Lands Community Composition project and the Potlatch Symphony.
The Story Bank is a wonderful resource for learning more about orchestras’ innovative education and community engagement work, a touch point to help us reflect on the work our own organizations are doing, as well as the perfect place to point donors, press, and the public.

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild of Bloomington-Normal
The Girl Scout Workshop and Introducing Guild Volunteer Elaine Cousins
One of the Gold Book Awards of Excellence projects to be presented at the 2015 League of American Orchestras Conference in Cleveland, May 27-29, is the Girl Scout Workshop. The Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild of Bloomington-Normal partnered with the Girl Scouts to enable the Scouts to fulfill their requirements for the "musician" badge in a 70-minute interactive, pre-concert, educational workshop and by attending a follow up Illinois Symphony Orchestra Concert.  Workshop activities included:
  • Instrument petting zoo of the instrument families
  • Music around the world in anthems
  • Making instruments, performing, and conducting
  • Fun music websites
  • Preview of music to be performed
  • Concert etiquette
The presentation in Cleveland will stress how to conduct this workshop in volunteer associations' own areas, using the Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild's partnership as an example.
The Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild of Bloomington-Normal has made its mark with educational programming due in large part to volunteer and past president Elaine Cousins. Previously, she helped design and conduct orientation programs for high school exchange students through Youth for Understanding. After retiring from the University of Michigan where she developed training programs and managed its non-credit computer training program for faculty, staff and students, Elaine taught music appreciation at the local community college in Normal, Illinois.

Elaine's skills and talents were noticed by a member of the League of American Orchestras Volunteer Council when her Guild presented their award winning gala event, "Symphony Celebrities," at the 2009 League of American Orchestras’ Conference in Chicago. Consequently she was asked to join the VolunteerElaineCousins31.jpg Council where she has so capably served as Program Chair, Webinar Co-chair (Leadership, Strategic Planning, Fundraising, and soon to be released Social Media), and the 2013-2014 Volunteer Notes editor, among other responsibilities. Conference attendees will no doubt remember Fundraising Fundamentals "Making an Ask", the Toybox Leadership session, and the Good Governance Board Game, designed with fellow Volunteer Council member, Linda Weisbruch.  Elaine's six-year term on the Volunteer Council will end this year but her many contributions will not be forgotten.
Elaine states, "I get ideas from what I think people need or what has been suggested and then I try to make the session one where people learn actively. I think people learn best when they can actually 'do' something and especially when they can apply and practice a new idea or skill right away." Elaine promises that the Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild's Girl Scout Workshop will keep people learning actively. Plan to attend the Conference in Cleveland and see for yourself!

Touch Base Calls
In addition to being an invaluable resource of information for orchestra volunteers nationwide, the Volunteer Council offers many programs and services including its Touch-Base Calls, where Volunteer Council members connect with volunteer organization leaders through phone calls or emails to discuss highlights and concerns, in addition to promoting the League of American Orchestras’ National Conference.
Please respond if you are contacted! The Volunteer Council wants to hear from you (and this will not be a solicitation call).

Future Meetings

MidWinter Managers’ Meeting- Jan 24-25, 2016
Crowne Plaza Times Square, NY, NY

2016 National Conference- June 9-11, 2016
Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, Baltimore, MD

2017 National Conference- June 7-9, 2017
Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI

New Congress to Vote on Giving Incentives - Make it Personal!

February 9, 2015

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a package of charitable giving provisions, including one that would make the IRA Charitable Rollover permanent. Advocacy is working, bipartisan support is growing, and your stories about the impact of charitable giving in your community will make a difference.

The opportunity to donate tax-free distributions from retirement accounts to charities was unavailable to donors in 2014, right up until the last two weeks of the year, when Congress and the White House agreed to a short-term reinstatement that again expired on December 31, 2014.

Twice in 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of permanently enacting the IRA Charitable Rollover, but the second vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to overcome a White House veto threat over how to pay for the package of provisions. With the House poised to vote once again on making the IRA Rollover permanent, your organization has an excellent opportunity to describe what transpired in those last two weeks of 2014 when the IRA Rollover was available to donors. Did your orchestra experience a surge of new contributions? Did donors say they would have made contributions with more time to plan their giving? What untapped potential to increase your orchestra's impact in your community would be met by making the IRA Rollover permanent?

The League's online campaign portal, linked below, provides a sample letter to your member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Please take a few moments to send a message, personalizing it with examples of the impact of charitable giving to your orchestra, in your community.  Thank you!

Participate Here!

Essentials Heads West!

This year, the League is partnering with USC to host our 10-day immersive leadership seminar, Essentials of Orchestra Management, in LA. Learn more!

New Free eBook!

Get the best from your board with our new BoardSource eBook The Board Building Cycle: Nine Steps to Finding, Recruiting, and Engaging Nonprofit Board Members. Free for League members!

Join us in Cleveland for Conference 2015!

Register now for the League’s Annual Conference—May 27-29 in Cleveland, OH! Visit our Conference 2015 website for more information.

NEA FY16 Grant Application Deadlines and Guidelines Now Posted

January 7, 2015

The League has prepared specialized tips to help orchestras navigate the new FY16 National Endowment for the Arts guidelines. Grant application deadlines are earlier than usual, and the NEA has created a new grant opportunity.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the NEA in 2015, and the National Park Service's (NPS) Centennial in 2016, the two agencies are working together to encourage the creation of and greater public engagement with art relating to the work and mission of our national park system. Interested applicants might consider projects commissioning and presenting new work in or adjacent to a national park, performances, or festivals in these settings, for example. Applicants also may consider NPS-managed trails, rivers, designated landmarks, historic sites, and heritage areas as sites of activity in a project proposal. Collaborative partnerships with the selected park area or program are strongly encouraged. For a project being proposed within a national park, applicants must first consult with the appropriate NPS official. See "NEA-NPS Funding Collaboration" for more details, and note that this opportunity is subject to the single application rule.

The NEA's FY16 Application deadlines are February 19, 2015 for Art Works, Part 1; July 23, 2015 for Art Works Part 2; and April 15, 2015 for Challenge America.

Read the League's Customized Tips for Orchestras Preparing an FY16 Application          


Final Rules for Musical Instrument Air Travel Released by USDOT

December 31, 2014

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) issued final regulations to improve travel by air with musical instruments. The rules become effective within 60 days of being published and require major airlines to update their policies and practices.  This action comes nearly three years after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act was signed into law, including a section mandating improved airline policies for musicians traveling with their instruments.

This major policy development is the result of intense and prolonged advocacy efforts by the music community, reinforced by dozens of Congressional leaders, including Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI).

The new rules require airlines to adequately accommodate musical instruments in their formal policies for checked and carry-on baggage, and to ensure that front-line airline personnel consistently apply the policies. The next crucial step will be for the airlines to adopt new policies, make them publicly accessible, and thoroughly train airline personnel. The League continues to partner closely with the American Federation of Musicians, Chamber Music America, the Recording Academy, the Performing Arts Alliance, and other national music organizations in conversation with senior USDOT and aviation industry officials, advocating for swift implementation, and immediate relief for traveling musicians. 

As the airlines take action to implement the new rules, the League will update our online hub of resources to explain the impact on travel with musical instruments.

See the League’s Aviation Policy Guide for More Details!