League Ivory Comments, IRA Rollover Status, Arts Education Updates, and More

October 8, 2015

League Calls for Progress and Clarity in New Ivory Rules

On behalf of member orchestras nationwide, the League filed comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on September 28, supporting proposed exemptions for musical instruments from new rules restricting commerce and international travel with items containing elephant ivory, and calling for further improvements and clarifications to proposed policies that will impact the future use of violins, bows, bassoons, and other musical instruments legally made with small quantities of ivory. The proposed rules deal primarily with future sales of ivory-containing items, but also provide one form of relief related to travel that was requested by the League and its partners in national music organizations. The League website provides an overview of this complicated topic that includes a summary of our comments, and also provides updated guidance for musicians preparing for international travel as rules continue to change. The timeline for finalizing the draft rules is uncertain, as USFWS must now take into account the many thousands of public comments prompted by the proposed new policies. The League comments also urge USFWS to adopt immediate policy improvements to the rules for international travel, which are expected to be taken up in a separate rule-making process later this year. We remain in close dialogue with USFWS, music industry stakeholders, and conservation interests as orchestras pursue policy solutions that will both protect endangered species and support international cultural activity.

IRA Rollover Status Still Uncertain

With less than three months remaining in the 2015 tax year, Congress has still not taken final action to reinstate the IRA Charitable Rollover provision. This charitable giving incentive has produced new and increased contributions to support orchestras and the full array of nonprofit organizations serving local communities, but expired on December 31, 2014. The League's membership of orchestras is partnering with Feeding America, United Way Worldwide, American Red Cross, Independent Sector, and dozens of other national organizations calling on Congress and the Administration to make the IRA Rollover permanently available. We will share further developments on the possibility of permanence, reinstatement for 2015, or a two-year reinstatement and extension of this important charitable giving incentive.

Federal Government Averts Shutdown: Appropriations Still Unfinished

Mere hours before federal funding was set to expire last week, Congress passed a stopgap bill to fund the government through December 11, 2015. Under these continuing resolutions (CR), most agencies enter a new fiscal year operating under the previous year's spending priorities. The Interior bill, which funds the National Endowment for the Arts, was making rapid progress in both chambers until heated debates in the House over policies unrelated to the NEA sidelined further progress. Similarly, neither the House nor the Senate were able to advance an education spending bill to the floor for a full vote, which leaves the status of the currently $25 million-funded Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education unresolved once again. As Congress continues to debate overall spending limits and priorities, the League will keep you posted on important opportunities to weigh in.

Education Act Re-Write Awaits Action

The 14-year wait for Congress to re-write the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has grown longer as changes in leadership of the House of Representatives slows progress on a number of legislative issues. The League coordinated a September 15 letter from national arts and education organizations to House and Senate Chairs and Ranking Members of the committees responsible for next steps on ESEA, calling specifically for support for the Arts in Education programs. After each chamber passed their respective ESEA bills, the next step is for a committee of conferees to work together on a compromise bill to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions. While the timing of further action is uncertain, advocates have plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about the progress arts education has made.  As always, the most immediate action on arts education policy happens at the state and local level.  See the League's resources to help orchestras be active partners in these efforts.

EdCE Survey Extended to Nov. 2

Help us communicate the value and impact of Education and Community Engagement work by participating in our survey. New deadline: Nov. 2.

Volunteer Notes Summer 2015

Three_line_color_gif.gif July 16, 2015 facebook500.png  twitter2.png  yt_home.png?r=1407251763518
Volunteer Notes Summer 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, Outgoing Volunteer Council President
MargaritaPortrait11.jpgFourteen members and two ex-officio members from twelve states representing all volunteer organizations of all orchestra group sizes dedicated themselves to the 2014-2015 Volunteer Council and its mission to support orchestra volunteers nationwide.   
Here are some of the highlights from this year:
  • The Volunteer Council participated in the League’s Strategic Planning, a year-long effort intended to produce a coherent vision and a road map for the League for the next five years. Jesse Rosen, President and CEO, League of American Orchestras, and Ken Cole, Vice President of Learning Leadership Development, each met with the Council at our winter meeting on February 23-24. They discussed the formidable issues facing our orchestras and the League, including the single biggest and most complex issue of relevance. Council members appreciated this opportunity to share our volunteer perspective. It also provided us with significant food for thought on rethinking programming for volunteers in the years ahead.
  • League staff contributed to our Strategic Conversations, our conference call series from October to December for thirteen volunteer association presidents and president-elects.  Jesse Rosen talked about leadership from his unique vantage point and Natalie Kimball, manager of the League’s Annual Fund, shared her ideas on fundraising through social media, including the increasingly popular Day of Giving approach.
  • We worked closely with the League’s development staff to create and implement a fundraising strategy to raise $40,000 from volunteers. Shirley McCrary, a volunteer from Mooresville, Alabama, recently pledged $5,000 to match volunteer donations to help us achieve our goal by the end of the summer. We thank her wholeheartedly for this generous donation and encourage you to help us reach our goal and help the League expand the work it does for orchestras across the United States and Canada, including their volunteers. To make a gift please contact Samara Ungar at 646 822 4008 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or visit the online donation page.
  • Planning the volunteer sessions at the League’s National Conference in Cleveland represents our most significant contribution and is detailed below by Conference Chair Debbie McKinney. However, I must take this moment to mention the gracious hospitality and wonderful support we enjoyed from the Cleveland Orchestra and their three volunteer association presidents: Faye Heston, President of the Volunteer Council; Claire Frattare, President of the Blossom Women’s Committee; and Dr. Patricia Moore Smith, President of the Women’s Committee. I would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to fellow Volunteer Council member Iris Harvie, who as a Cleveland local worked tirelessly to make sure that all of us who visited her city were well cared for.
It was a privilege and a pleasure to serve as President of the Volunteer Council this year. I would like to thank our members for their incredible dedication and service as well as Samara Ungar, the League’s staff liaison to the Council, who is an integral part of our organization and instrumental in the execution of all our work. I also thank all of you for all that you do, year in and year out, to support North America’s orchestras. 
Margarita Contreni, 2014-15 Volunteer Council President
Representing the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra in Lafayette, IN

2015 National Conference in Cleveland: Highlights

The League of American Orchestras' 70th National Conference was held in Cleveland, home of The Cleveland Orchestra and Severance Hall, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a number of other first-class arts institutions, from May 27 to May 29. In addition to the a full range of programming that the League provided for delegates across the orchestra field, the Volunteer Council curated a track of Conference with programming specifically for the 125 volunteer delegates in attendance, including the presentation of 22 award-winning programs:
Eleven projects received the Gold Book Award of Excellence, including Austin’s Youth Leadership Council, Waco’s Sharp Flats Loft Tour, San Francisco’s Symphony in Flowers, the National Symphony’s Sound Health, Charlotte’s Guild 101, Kansas City Symphony Guild’s Intermezzo Candlelight Tour, Oklahoma City’s Sky Ball Wine Pull, Kansas City Symphony League’s Concerto a Venizia, Milwaukee’s The Emerald City Soiree, and Houston’s Centennial Ball. These last three were presented as a panel of milestone achievement projects, celebrating longevity mixed with fundraising.
The eleventh project, presented as a participatory musical experience, Scouting and Symphony: A Partnership, had each delegate make a musical instrument from household recycled supplies, "playing" it when directed by a volunteer "conductor" as part of this hands-on program. This Girl Scout Musician Award workshop from the Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild of Bloomington-Normal could easily be replicated by any organization in partnership with its orchestra.
You can find the PowerPoints and handouts for each of these presentations here on the League’s website.
Ten additional outstanding projects, from volunteer groups around the country, were presented as part of the Roundtable sessions Martini Monday Musicales & Winey Wednesdays, Past Presidents' Fund,
Table Art 2014 Featuring Designer Michael Aram, and Symphonic Turquoise Bracelet   to name a few. Volunteer Council members rounded out the session by presenting two additional Roundtables on Leadership Tools and Online Resources.
Last, but certainly not least, the Houston Symphony League received the Classic Award for its long running Ima Hogg Competition.
New ideas and insights in education, membership, fundraising, and community engagement were shared and eagerly noted by delegates to take back to their volunteer organizations.
The final day of Conference started with a fun and creative Membership Board game, designed (by two Volunteer Council members) to share old and new ideas for member recruitment and leadership development. Dice, game pieces, playing cards, and attrition jail were all part of the Monopoly-style game which elicited much discussion and received high accolades from the delegates. The game also set the platform for the networking luncheon's keynote address by speaker, Susan Howlett, author of Boards on Fire! Inspiring Leaders to Raise Money Joyfully. Susan offered common sense approaches to recruiting volunteers and promoting leadership in volunteer organizations.
The League’s Conference in Cleveland has come and gone, but new ideas shared and networking opportunities experienced for orchestra volunteer organizational leaders continue throughout the year!

Advocacy Updates from the League
Below are a few highlights from the July 10th Advocacy Update sent out by the League’s advocacy staff in Washington D.C:
As Education Debate Continues, Music Advocates Weigh In
Orchestras are speaking up as both the House and Senate re-write the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind.  At the center of debate is the fundamental question of how far the federal government should go in requiring state accountability for equitable access to a complete education. The House has passed its bill, which has earned a White House veto promise given HR 5's dramatic reduction in the federal footprint on education policy. The House bill also omits a definition of core academic subjects, and would eliminate the Arts in Education program, along with 60 other programs of the U.S. Department of Education. As the Senate continues debate on its bill, orchestras are joining other arts advocates in requesting support for the arts as a core academic subject of learning, and asking for approval of an amendment that would encourage states to develop public "dashboards" that offer transparency on disparities in student access to arts education and other core subjects of learning
IRA Rollover Remains Expired as Congress Mulls Comprehensive Tax Reform
The IRA Charitable Rollover provision has spurred new and increased giving to orchestras and thousands of other charitable organizations, but remains unavailable to donors following its expiration on December 31, 2014. Orchestras and other nonprofit advocates continue to ask Congress to act now, and to #Act4Good by making the IRA Rollover and other expired charitable giving incentives permanent. Action on reinstating the IRA Rollover is hung up as Congress considers next steps in comprehensive tax reform. On July 8, the Senate Finance Committee released reports from their working groups, including consideration of charitable giving incentives. The report includes comments that are generally supportive of considering action that would "increase certainty for taxpayers and increase the amount of funds that flow to charities" regarding the IRA Rollover, but provides no firm plans for action. More than 40% of the revenue that supports orchestras' work in service to their communities comes from charitable giving. The League is representing orchestras in ongoing tax reform conversations, while orchestras continue to weigh in from home as policy leaders on both sides of the Capital dome consider next steps.
Summer Homework: Meet Your Elected Officials!
Summer is the best time to connect with your elected officials. They will be home for the entire month of August, which means now is the perfect time to reach out and invite your Representative and Senators to meet with you, attend a summer concert, witness an education program at work, or participate in an event that demonstrates your orchestra's engagement in the community. Getting in touch now pays off later, when you need to contact members on urgent issues. Please stay in touch with the League's DC Office as well-- we'd love to know how you're connecting with your officials at home, so we can help reinforce your relationships in Washington!
To read the full versions of these updates and more from D.C., click here for access to the July 10th updates. If you do not already receive advocacy news from the League (alerts and updates) and would like to start receiving these e-mails, please e-mail Najean Lee, Director of Government Affairs & Education Advocacy, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Submit a Project to Gold Book
Does your volunteer organization have a successful, innovative, or practical project that you would like to share with others? Consider submitting your project to goldbookonline.org. Gold Book is the ultimate resource for volunteers, by volunteers. Its goal is to inspire, educate, and excite you bringing you details about the best volunteer-driven projects from across the country. On the website, you will find:
  • Background information about the Volunteer Council's Gold Book Awards
  • Past award recipient projects
  • Information on how to submit a project of your own (including a section called “Helpful Hints”)
  • Other resources
The most outstanding projects submitted in the categories of Fundraising, Education, Audience Development/Community Engagement, Membership, Communication/Technology, Leadership/Organizational Structure, and Service Projects will be selected by the Volunteer Council. Awardees will present at the League of American Orchestras' National Conference in Baltimore next spring, providing successful examples for other organizations to adapt and follow.
The deadline to submit a project (completed between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015) is September 2, 2015.

Recruiting Members to Leadership
SusanHowlettEmail.jpgAre you looking for easier ways to recruit members and promote leadership for your volunteer organization? If so, Susan Howlett, consultant and author of Boards on Fire! Inspiring Leaders to Raise Money Joyfully, has some helpful tips. For example, make tasks simpler and affordable, saving time and money. Instead of catering an event or appointing several people to organize the menu, why not have a potluck and assign everyone an item to bring, from forks, to one kind of flower, to paper plates, to ice? Attendees have buy in and show up. Susan went on to say that it might be easier to recruit leaders if we tried less intense events. Instead of balls or galas, try "salons" or "house parties," and segment these gatherings for smaller groups such as board members or volunteers. How about a "disappearing task force" which goes away after several meetings? Susan shared stories, statistics, and ideas about member recruitment and leadership at the League of American Orchestras' Volunteer Networking Luncheon in Cleveland last May.
The Charlotte Symphony Guild put Susan's words into action several years ago when it simplified its Musical Petting Zoo (MPZ) responsibilities and received a Volunteer Council Gold Book Award for this work. For 10 years, the MPZ had the same two chairs doing a large job. New leadership roles and a team concept needed to be created for managing the work load – doable jobs today are smaller jobs. A plan was developed to divide the chair’s duties into smaller individual jobs such as venue contact, scheduler, zoo keepers, thank you goodie bags, and instrument service and supplies. Detailed job descriptions were written and served as guidelines for present and future committee members of the MPZ team, and a system was set up to mentor each person in his or her new job. The results were new chairs and more volunteers. To read more about The Musical Petting Zoo: Fine Tuning Responsibilities, go to goldbookonline.org.
Susan stated research shows that people want to feel three things from their relationship with our volunteer organizations: they want to feel appreciated and valued (e.g., shout outs), they want to feel that they are making a difference, and they want to feel a sense of connecting to something larger than themselves. (Use words such as family, connection, and community on your recruitment site.) Adults are looking for autonomy, mastery, and purpose when joining a nonprofit organization. Perhaps the most valuable take-away from her presentation was to encourage a sense of belonging with your members.
For more information on Susan Howlett or to purchase Susan’s book go to www.susanhowlett.com

A Plethora of Resources – Strategic Conversations and More
A Letter from Incoming President, Linda Weisbruch
LindaWeisbruchEmail.pngI attended my first League of American Orchestras National Conference over a decade ago. One week prior, I had become President-elect of The Symphony Guild of Charlotte – a flourishing, venerable community institution founded in 1950. I was new. I was nervous. I was, well, needful! 
The League’s Volunteer Council offered a session for Presidents and Presidents-elect at Conference that year. I sat in the front row, a sponge ready to soak up every molecule. I was not disappointed. Best practices literally flew around the room – from membership and fundraising to infrastructure and orchestra relations. Successes and challenges came from every corner, not just the podium.
This was powerful stuff! The League provided us with a forum designed to educate, nurture, encourage, and connect us in our common search for a better way. I never looked back; I attended all but one Conference from that point forward, well after my Guild leadership years were behind me. In all these years, I have never stopped learning and sharing. In fact, I remain in awe of the new ideas and simple solutions offered by our delegates at Conference every year.
In the last ten years, we’ve experienced seismic social and economic change: the Great Recession, generational shift, and social media/technology to name a few. How our orchestras navigate these uncharted waters (and how we volunteers are able to fulfill our mission of support for our symphonies) is immensely challenging.
Just as I discovered I was not alone in 2004, we are not alone now. The League has been at the forefront, recognizing trends and reacting quickly and appropriately to re-educate our constituents to operate effectively and efficiently in an ever-changing landscape. 
League resources are continuously being developed and enhanced for every constituency. For volunteers, much resides online, from award-winning volunteer projects to best practice webinars about all facets of auxiliary management (www.americanorchestras/org/board-members-volunteers/volunteers).The Volunteer Council also offers mentoring services for nascent volunteer organizations and auxiliaries in stress, as well as one-on-one sounding board conversations for current leadership. (Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be connected with the appropriate person for your specific needs.)
Additionally, over the past several years, we have developed an intimate conference call series for presidents and presidents-elect – Strategic Conversations. The series consists of six 60-minute calls on the following Tuesdays at 3:00pm EST: September 29, October 13, October 27, November 10, November 24, and December 8. Together, we will talk about governance, leadership development, member recruitment and retention, fundraising, and other topics. We will email agendas and resource materials to all participants in advance of each call, and minutes from the conversations will be distributed following each call.
Please join me and Volunteer Council President-elect Debbie McKinney (Oklahoma City Orchestra League) for these in-depth conversations with your peers. Our participants represent diverse orchestra volunteer associations from across the U.S, and Canada; we welcome orchestras from every group size.
To register for this Strategic Conversation, please complete the following online form no later than September 13, 2015. In order to ensure everyone can participate fully, we have limited space, so sign up early and join the conversation.  We look forward to sharing, learning, solving. and laughing with you!

The tuition fee is $50 for this program.
Exclusive Offer for Volunteer Notes Readers!
If you book before 11:59pm EST on August, 13th and enter the discount code VOLNOTES you will receive a 20% discount on this Strategic Conversations series. This $40 rate is being offered in this issue of Volunteer Notes exclusively, as a thank you to our readers.
*If neither the president nor president elect of your organization is available for this series, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. about the possibility of having a vice president or chair (particularly fundraising and/or membership chairs) attend this call series.

July 2015

July 2015
League’s Conference in Cleveland a Rousing Success
This year’s theme for the League of American Orchestras’ Conference was “The New Work of Orchestras,” and for 1000+ delegates, it was a refrain that resonated deeply. In a nod to David Letterman, League President and CEO Jesse Rosen’s Conference address included a “Top Ten” list of critical issues for orchestras. The list covered a wide swath of ideas, from “Design the organizations that serve the music and missions of today” to “Experiment, evaluate, and collaborate." Other points: “Be part of the solution to our nation’s education equity crisis,” “Prioritize diversity,” and “Integrate community engagement in all activity -- it’s a value, not a program.” Read the full transcript or watch a video of the speech here. Other videos, transcripts, and presentations from the Conference are now available on the League’s website.
Daphne, Data, and Dancing

Conference delegates spent three jam-packed days attending educational sessions, meetings with peers, events, and performances, including an extraordinary production of the Strauss opera Daphne by host The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall. An unprecedented number of research reports were previewed at the Conference, including a League-commissioned analysis of subscriptions trends, as well as studies on digital strategy, audience development, donor relations, and changing concert formats. See a post-Conference report from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Listen to an interview about the state of the orchestra field with Jesse Rosen and Cleveland Orchestra executive director Gary Hanson, on radio station WCPN.
Now on Deck: Institutional Change and a New Collaborative Landscape
One of many Conference treats was a session entitled Unleashing the Power of Collaboration. A mix of musicians, executive directors, and board chairs from The Cleveland Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra elaborated on how orchestras have changed their missions over the years and helped create a new collaborative landscape, focused outwardly and incorporating the communities they serve. See the video here.
NEA Chairman Chu on Orchestras, Creativity, and Relevance

NEA Chairman Jane Chu addressed the Conference attendees, sharing remarks during the opening session that explored the capacity of orchestras to respond to the issues of our time, referencing the recent work of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.  Orchestras were also invited to share stories of the impact of NEA funding as the agency embarks on celebrating its 50th anniversary.  Chairman Chu's perspective on the capacity of the arts and creativity to impact civic life is explored in an interview in the current issue of Symphony magazine.
New Orchestral Works by John Luther Adams, Michael Gordon, Tod Machover, and Others Connect Music to Local Communities
Now in the summer issue of Symphony: A spate of new musical works evokes the histories, geographies and life stories of the places where orchestras and their communities live. Read more here. Plus: Orchestra programs address gang violence, poverty, and juvenile offenders; a new East-West polyphony -- composers with Arabic, Turkish, and Iranian roots create cross-cultural works for orchestra; and London’s orchestras ride a wave of experimentation. Read the full issue free-of-charge here.
Cuban Overtures: On the Road With the Minnesota Orchestra
When the Minnesota Orchestra became the first U.S. orchestra to visit Cuba following President Obama’s announcement of normalized relations with that country, the League’s president and CEO Jesse Rosen accompanied the group. He found a euphoric Cuban public, and a completely retooled orchestra, as musicians, staff, and board bonded closely together over three days filled with sold-out concerts, coaching sessions with high school and college students, a side-by-side concert with the Youth Orchestra of the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory, a midnight nightclub jam session, and a performance at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence. Plus instrument-repairing, sight-seeing, dancing, and more. Read the Huffington Post article here.
Did You Know?
Heather Noonan, the League’s VP for Advocacy, was profiled in the latest newsletter of the State Arts Action Network, a program of Americans for the Arts. Key topics covered: how the League’s advocacy efforts help member orchestras, and Noonan’s recommendations for arts advocates. Click here to read!
The popular Driving Growth through Digital Innovation Conference session examined “Like, Link, Share: How cultural institutions are embracing digital technology,” a recent study commissioned by the Wyncote Foundation. Read the study here. And check out the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Conference presentation here and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s presentation here.
Gen Xers and Millennials now comprise 35% of the Houston Symphony’s audience, up by 155% over the last nine years. There is a significantly higher degree (40%) of racial diversity among subscribers 45 years of age or under. See more in the Houston Symphony’s presentation from the Diversity Progress Report: Learn from Your Peers session.
Deadline August 12, 2015! Orchestra Statistical Report (OSR) Survey
The 2013-2014 Orchestra Statistical Report (OSR14) Survey is now open (for League member orchestras, only). The deadline for submission is Wednesday, August 12th, 2015, and only those orchestras who participate in the survey will receive the full OSR report. Please contact David Bojanowski with any questions: 646 822 4071 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
Photo Credits
Daphne, Data, and Dancing
Courtesy of the Cleveland Orchestra;
Photo Credit: Roger Mastroianni
NEA Chairman Chu
Photo Credit: 2015 © Nanette Bedway
Cuban Overtures
Photo Credit: Travis Anderson


Artistic Programming with a Focus on Social Issues and Community Dialogue

  • Seattle Symphony, to further expand the NativeLands Community Composition Project. The NativeLands Project will include a performance of the Potlatch Symphony, a co-created composition for Seattle Symphony Orchestra musicians and members of Native American communities, and a five-week classroom residency series led by a Native teaching artist. The project will provide artistic and cultural engagement for approximately 600 people, including multi-generational populations from several Native American nations participating in creative work, learning, and observing as audience members. Seattle Symphony will conduct trainings designed for project personnel, other Symphony staff, musicians, and Board members. Ongoing professional development provided to project personnel includes social justice symposia, off-site training sessions, and symphony-led training sessions for teaching artists and project staff.

Health and Wellness Programs in Hospitals, Nursing Homes, and Treatment Centers

  • Central Ohio Symphony, for Reconnecting, the symphony’s criminal justice program for adolescents and adults with substance use disorders or mental illnesses. A required part of the Delaware County Specialty Docket courts’ multi-phase treatment program, Reconnecting utilizes therapeutic drumming to treat youths 14 to 18, and adults, many of whom have lost custody of their children due to heroin abuse, a growing local problem. In partnership with the courts and treatment provider, Maryhaven, Reconnecting will serve 90 participants and their supporting family members, with each participant attending a session every two weeks for a total of 22 sessions in 2015. This is an active program where protocol-trained Central Ohio Symphony musicians and a licensed treatment counselor build on positive steps for growing self-awareness, esteem, and daily skills to help participants function in everyday society. This year, symphony facilitators will receive training in the highest level of methodology attainable through the Remo HealthRHYTHMS certified training, qualifying them to train other musicians.
  • Grand Rapids Symphony, for Music for Health, a new health and wellness program in collaboration with Spectrum Health and Perrigo Company Charitable Foundation. Music for Health serves patients at Spectrum Health who suffer with a neurological impairment, such as stroke or traumatic brain injury, or who are experiencing some level of dementia. The program targets patients served by Spectrum Health’s Music Therapy program, currently available at six campuses, as well as their families and the Spectrum Health professionals caring for them – approximately 450 patients, family members, and caregivers in all. Symphony musicians work directly with the music therapist to provide goal-directed interventions to patients, presenting live music to enhance vocal strength; making music interactively with patients, helping them practice attention skills, impulse control, and socialization; facilitating movement rehabilitation as patients move to the music; and enhancing patient-created songs for therapeutic purposes.
  • Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, to further expand its KSO Music & Wellness program at the University of Tennessee Medical Center’s Cancer Institute. The program, which currently provides live musical performances for patients to enhance the healing process and employs a part-time board certified music therapist, also includes a professional development practicum for the musicians in the program, and the creation of an observational study that will measure positive and negative responses of patients exposed to live music, providing quantitative data to support music in healthcare settings. KSO musicians play in public areas of the hospital and work with individual patients in chemotherapy, oncology, the cardiovascular and neonatal intensive care units and on the  cardiovascular in-patient floors, Lobby performances and work with individuals also occurs at additional facilities. The five KSO musicians working in the program have become Certified Music Practitioners though the Music for Healing and Transition Program, a not-for-profit therapeutic music educational organization.
  • Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, for Soul Strings, a new health and wellness program that increases the quality of life for adults with developmental disabilities through music-informed therapy. Magnolia Community Services, an organization that provides support to adults with intellectual and other development challenges in the Greater New Orleans region, is a long-standing partner of the philharmonic, with the orchestra currently providing education concerts and materials to 395 Magnolia Community Services clients. The orchestra is now deepening engagement with the new Soul Strings program. Twelve Louisiana Philharmonic musicians (three string quartets) will administer sensory and intellectual stimulation through an intimate and direct music therapy to 60 clients, with the guidance of a licensed music therapist. Future efforts might include a collaborative performance in which musicians and Magnolia Community Services clients play side-by-side. The orchestra also plans to analyze program data following this pilot season and to share lessons learned.
  • Phoenix Symphony, for The B-Sharp Music Wellness, a W.O.N.D.E.R. Project: Alzheimer’s Expansion Pilot Initiative, a program evaluating the impact of music on Alzheimer’s patients in need through a 12-week program of musical intervention. The pilot launch will focus on 48 Huger Mercy Living Center patients and their families and caregivers (an approximate total of 165 individuals receiving weekly musical therapy over a 3-month period). Fifteen Symphony musicians will participate in ensembles that will perform at Huger Mercy Living Center in a variety of environments: individual cottages, community areas, and other locations throughout the center. The musicians and Arizona State University Music Therapy experts will measure a variety of criteria to determine the efficacy of the music therapy and its ability to reduce stress, including sleep levels, pharmaceutical interventions, caloric intake, memory recall, compliance with daily living skills and related routines, and mental wellness of caregivers.

Long-term In-school Partnerships and After-school Programs with Social Development Components

  • Allentown Symphony Orchestra, for El Sistema Lehigh Valley, an arts-based after-school social initiative at two sites for 105 students. Of the over 18,000 students in the Allentown School District, 88% come from low-income families. El Sistema Lehigh Valley helps young people who are underserved or who have special needs develop life skills learned by participating in music instruction, large ensemble performances, academic tutoring, field trips, and a mentoring service. For the past three years, participants who regularly attended the program surpassed reading and math testing goals set by the Allentown School District. The program is run in cooperation with the Allentown School District and additional partners including United Way of Greater Lehigh Valley, the Boys and Girls Club of Allentown, Kutztown University Orchestra, DeSales University, Moravian College, Muhlenberg College, and Allentown Parks and Recreation.
  • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, for OrchKids, an El Sistema-inspired program providing music instruction, mentorship, instruments, academic tutoring, healthy meals, field trips, and holistic family services at no cost to more than 825 students at five school sites.  In the average OrchKids neighborhood, 71.2% of young people live in single-parent, female-headed households and the high school completion rate is 75%.  The orchestra’s numerous partners include the Baltimore City Public School System, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and the Peabody Institute, among others. In the 2014-2015 academic year, OrchKids will implement an enhanced curriculum and a new string pedagogy incorporating a diverse range of traditional American string playing techniques and musical genres, including folk fiddling, jazz, world music, and classical music. The orchestra is using a longitudinal self-evaluation that compares an OrchKids cohort with non-OrchKids peers on test scores, school attendance, rates, musical skills, and social behaviors.
  • DC Youth Orchestra Program, to develop and implement a pre-orchestra curriculum for pre-kindergarten children ages 3 to 5. For nearly 60 years, the DC Youth Orchestra Program (DCYOP) has fostered the musical development of nearly 50,000 young people in the Washington, D.C. region, ages 4 to 18. Partnering with DC Public Schools and Colombia’s Batuta Foundation, the second-largest El Sistema-inspired national program in the world, DCYOP will pilot the pre-kindergarten program with 50 students. The curriculum will then be made available to DC Public Schools music education teachers for use in their pre-kindergarten classes. More than 5,500 students are enrolled in pre-kindergarten at 60 elementary schools. Until now, DC Public Schools music teachers have not had access to an early childhood curriculum. DCYOP seeks to provide quality music education -- regardless of ability, background, or socioeconomic status -- through group lessons and ensemble training on all orchestral instruments.
  • El Paso Symphony Orchestra, for Tocando, an El Sistema-inspired after-school program offering immersive music instruction, field trips, academic support, and mentoring four days per week and free of charge for students in grades 1 through 5, as well as summer classes. The first program of its kind in the El Paso region, Tocando will expand to serve 90 students at two campuses from El Paso’s El Segundo Barrio neighborhood, in the heart of a federally recognized Empowerment Zone. Census data from 2010 confirms that this neighborhood is one of the poorest and least educated in the country, with 60% of households in the area living below the poverty level and 70% having not completed high school. A historic entry point into the U.S. from Mexico, El Segundo Barrio has been the starting point for many immigrant families, many fleeing from ongoing violence in Juarez due to the drug war.
  • Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, for the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, a youth and family development program reaching 235 low-income students in grades K through 12. The program’s goal is to engage students early in elementary school and have the participants continue through high school by providing music education, positive role models, mentoring, and family support services. Priority enrollment is offered to students living in Center Township, the area with Indianapolis’ lowest graduation rate and one of the highest number of families living in poverty. Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra musicians conduct private lessons and participate in rehearsals and concerts; the program also includes several professional development workshops.
  • Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, to further expand its Kalamazoo Kids in Tune after-school music and youth development program, based on the El Sistema model and serving up to 85 students during the school year and 40 in the summer. A partnership between the orchestra, social service agency Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS), and the Kalamazoo Public Schools system, the orchestra-immersion program infuses an existing CIS after-school program with accessible and ongoing ensemble-based music learning. Activities include a daily nutritious meal, small group music lessons, orchestra rehearsals, choir, musicianship training, and dance classes. Daily homework help is provided, as well as periodic field trips and one-on-one tutoring with volunteers for students with identified needs. The grant will lay the groundwork for an enhanced curriculum that reflects an increased level of rigor, with more time dedicated to instruction from professional music teachers.
  • Kidznotes, an organization serving 275 children and their families in Durham and Southeast Raleigh’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Inspired by El Sistema, Kidznotes seeks to lift children out of poverty through the riches of classical music. Beginning as early as pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, Kidznotes students receive approximately ten hours of classical music instruction each week at no cost. They participate in four after-school sessions per week, as well as two-hour orchestral rehearsals each Saturday. In addition, Kidznotes hosts a three-week summer camp for all enrolled students, providing 24 hours of instruction and practice each week. Kidznotes partners include East Durham Children’s Initiative, North Carolina Symphony, Duke University, Durham Public Schools and Wake County Public Schools, National Alliance for El Sistema Inspired Programs, and Communities in Schools of Durham and Wake County.
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic, for Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA). Serving 700 students at three sites, the El Sistema-inspired program currently provides free after-school instrumental instruction, ensemble performance opportunities, and academic support. The students participating primarily attend Title I schools and live in neighborhoods with 75% of families’ household incomes at or below $20,000 per year. Students receive 700 hours of instruction per year including music instruction, sectionals, tutoring, and rehearsals, with Los Angeles Philharmonic musicians spending more than 100 hours in residency with YOLA students. The grant will be used to add new woodwinds and brass sections to YOLA’s third site and increase YOLA’s leadership development offerings as the program’s oldest students begin to apply to college and enter the workforce.
  • Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, for Progressions, its string training program for students in grades 3 and 4. The program, now in its twelfth season, provides private instruction; orchestral training in violin, viola, cello and bass; and enrichment offerings including music theory instruction, side-by-side instruction with the orchestra’s higher-level ensembles, and opportunities to learn other art forms, such as dance, theater, and jazz. Seventy-two students engage in programming three times per week for the 35-week academic year; support for summer instruction is also provided. All students receive full scholarships for instruments, private lessons, membership, and transportation as needed during the two-year program. At the end of the two years, students audition for the next level of the youth orchestra; matriculation rates since inception for those second-year students have been as high as 90-100%. Program partners include the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee Public Schools.
  • New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, for NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project), an after-school music instruction program inspired by the El Sistema model. The program currently takes place in partnership with University Heights Charter School in Newark, with plans to expand to public, private, and other charter schools. As many as 60 students in grades 4 through 8 will participate in the program in the 2014-15 season, receiving weekly instruction totaling 4.5 hours over 3 days per week for 30 weeks. They will also participate in public concerts, peer exchanges, and attend NJSO performances. Students receive group lessons in violin, viola, or cello and musicianship lessons, where they learn theory, dictation/ear training, and composition. They also participate in larger ensemble rehearsals to prepare for public performance. Three NJSO musicians serve as coaches-in-residence, working with participants monthly, and providing students with direct contact with professional musicians.
  • Orchestra of St. Luke’s, for Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s (YOSL), an El Sistema-inspired after-school music program in partnership with the Police Athletic League (PAL) and three area elementary schools. Approximately 90 students in grades 2 through 7 will participate in more than 850 hours of programming this season, with the program now including community-wide rehearsals at the Orchestra’s new rehearsal/recording facility, The DiMenna Center, as well as increased opportunities for Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) musicians to coach advanced students. The program serves children in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, an area lacking enriching arts experiences despite its proximity to the city’s cultural destinations. Additionally, Orchestra of St. Luke’s collaborates with five other El Sistema-inspired programs, providing leadership expertise and giving students in these programs access to OSL musicians and The DiMenna Center for coaching, attendance at OSL open rehearsals, and shared professional development sessions.
  • San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory, for Community Opus Project, three after-school instrumental music programs, and its close partnership with Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESC). The El Sistema-inspired program provides access to high-quality, affordable music education for children in one of San Diego County’s low-income communities near the Mexican border. The Opus Project includes the Opus Strings Orchestra and Opus Band, for elementary students, and the Opus Honor Orchestra, open to middle and high school music students. The program also provides in-school general music lessons for third graders, and Opus students are participating in a 5-year longitudinal research study with the University of California, San Diego’s Center for Human Development to learn how musical training affects children’s brain development and skills such as language and attention. The Opus program was a critical catalyst for CVESC’s decision to provide a standards-based music education program for all 45 schools in the district by 2025, with plans to reach more than 29,000 students by then.
  • Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras, for SYSO in the Schools, incorporating two programs: the Southwest Seattle String Project, seeking equitable access to public school arts education within the Seattle Public School District and diversity in orchestra musicians, audiences, and supporters, and the Endangered Instruments Program, addressing the persistent shortage of players of oboe, bassoon, viola, double bass, horn, trombone, and tuba in orchestras at all levels. SYSO in the Schools serves 700 public school students from grades 4 through 12 in 24 schools in the Seattle area, providing free before-school, after-school, and in-school music lessons; side-by-side rehearsal and concert opportunities for students; professional development opportunities for teachers; and instrument pedagogy training for SYSO teaching staff. The program’s teaching artists are all professional orchestral musicians.
  • Spokane Symphony, for Music Heals, a music education program for the children and youth on the Spokane Indian Reservation, in collaboration with the Wellpinit School District. 360 students, grades 1 through 12 will be served by the program, which will include Spokane Symphony music director Eckart Preu, Spokane Symphony musicians, tribal teachers, and the Wellpinit Schools music teacher. The students will create drums and flutes using traditional Native American methods and materials taught by experts from the Spokane Tribe’s Culture Department. The children will then learn to play their instruments and read music, with instruction provided by Spokane Symphony musicians. The students will also learn the Salish language, and participate in interactive, hands-on musical performances, including a culminating concert at the Spokane Tribal grounds, when the Symphony and students will pay alongside each other.
  • Stockton Symphony, for Harmony Stockton, a daily, free after-school music and academic enrichment program serving 68 students in grades 3 through 7 at Marshall Elementary School, a Title 1 school with a diverse population, 90% of which is eligible for free or reduced price meals. The El Sistema-inspired program is the result of a partnership among the University of the Pacific, Stockton Unified School District, United Way of San Joaquin, and the Stockton Symphony. Students are given academic tutoring and homework help, and the remaining hours are spent in music study. The program will be expanded to include a week-long songwriting residency for both Harmony Stockton students and two classes of second graders from Marshall. Some of the songs composed during the residency will be professionally arranged for full orchestra and performed by the Stockton Symphony.
  • Yakima Symphony Orchestra, for Yakima Music en Acción (YAMA), a daily El Sistema-inspired after-school music program with summer session. Hosted at a Title 1 elementary school, 51 students ages 8 to13 in two orchestras will receive instruction and participate in performances and special events. Yakima Ensemble for Strings (YES), a new YAMA leadership program, has been formed for older, advanced students who are transitioning into middle school. YAMA also addresses needs of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra (YSO), which has struggled to attract and retain talented musicians as many musicians migrate to larger metropolitan areas. Through the YSO’s Teaching Artist program, one team teaching artist and two private teaching artists, all three of whom are YSO musicians, will work with the students. Additionally,20-25 YSO musicians will present workshops, ensuring that YAMA students have regular contact with high-caliber professional teaching artists and musicians.

Getty Grants, Round 3 (2014-2015)

For a third year, the League of American Orchestras awarded Getty Education and Community Investment Grants to orchestras across the United States. The Round 3 grants support 22 orchestras in offering either long-term in-school partnership programs; after-school educational programs with social development components; health and wellness programs in hospitals, nursing homes, or treatment centers; or artistic programming with a focus on social issues and community dialogue.

For first-hand video accounts from grantee program stakeholders and others, visit the League’s online story bank. Community partners, 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.

Find brief descriptions of the programs here:

Questions can be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 646 822 4024.

The Getty Education and Community Investment Grants are made possible by a generous grant from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

Your U.S. Senator is Key to Next Step in FY16 NEA Funding Process

June 11, 2015

Special Alert!  Your U.S. Senator is Key to Next Step in FY16 NEA Funding Process

On Tuesday, June 16th, the Senate Interior Subcommittee will debate a bill that includes the FY16 budget for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Your Senator serves on this committee, and will play a key role in determining this year's NEA funding level. The budget process began earlier this week with the House Interior Subcommittee recommending level funding of $146 million, and both chambers of Congress are expected to advance their respective bills quickly, so it is vital to weigh in now.

The total pool of funds available for the Subcommittee to allocate to various accounts is subject to budget caps that make all non-defense spending vulnerable to reductions. Orchestras and the broader arts community are requesting an FY16 budget of $155 million for the NEA.

The League advocates on behalf of orchestras in support of NEA funding throughout the year. In March, we joined with Opera America to bring Melia Tourangeau, President & CEO of the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera to testify before the House Interior Subcommittee, and the next month, the League submitted its annual written testimony to the Senate, highlighting the work of orchestra grantees throughout the country. Throughout the year, we encourage orchestra advocates to tell their members of Congress how the NEA provides critical funding for projects that increase access to music in communities nationwide.

There is a small window of time for Congress to pass its funding bills, and the Senate Subcommittee deliberation is an important opportunity to weigh in directly with the influential members who will set the tone for the NEA's FY16 budget allocation. Please use the League's online Advocacy Center to tell your Senator how important NEA funding is to your community and to the nation. Your voice matters!

Click Here to Contact Your Senator Today!