Notes from Linda Weisbruch, Outgoing Volunteer Council President
Where did this year go? As we bid a fond farewell to 2015-16 fiscal year, here’s a quick look back at the Volunteer Council’s work these past twelve months!
Our eighteen members hailed from fifteen states representing all orchestra sizes from groups 1-8. These dedicated volunteers committed their time, talent and treasure to the Volunteer Council and our mission to support volunteers nationwide.
In 2015-16, the Volunteer Council:
disseminated the League’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan to all volunteers through Volunteer Notes, plus Annual Fund and other field communications
aligned the Volunteer Council mission statement* with the new League mission/vision statement
conducted a six-part series of Strategic Conversations for thirteen presidents/presidents-elect on governance, fundraising, and membership
created a new webinar, entitled “Gold Book – The Ultimate Resource,” a tutorial on how to create a stellar Gold Book submittal plus site navigation/utilization tips for the first time user
supported the League’s Conference theme of “The Richness of Difference” through Conference programming and field communications
As always, the Volunteer Council’s planning and execution of all volunteer constituency programming at the League’s 71st National Conference in Baltimore represented our most significant commitment (details follow in the Conference overview article). It was an extraordinary experience to work with the Baltimore Symphony Associates (BSA). Under the leadership of BSA President Sandy Feldman, these host volunteers set the “hospitality bar” at new heights. Each Associate made us welcome at every turn, demonstrating a most gracious can-do spirit for which the Volunteer Council is ever grateful!
It has been my honor to serve my fellow volunteers this past year as the Volunteer Council’s president. I send a special thank you to each and every symphony volunteer across the nation for your dedication to your orchestra family. I would also thank our Volunteer Council members for their outstanding accomplishments, and our League staff liaisons Samara Ungar and Caitlin Whealon for their ceaseless and expert support of the Council’s work.
Looking forward to seeing you in Detroit, June 6-8, 2017 … until then, my very best wishes for a successful 2016-17,
Linda Weisbruch President 2015-16, Volunteer Council
*The League’s updated mission statement is: To advance the experience of orchestral music, support the people and organizations that create it, and champion the contributions they make to the health and vibrancy of communities. The Volunteer Council has aligned its mission statement to: The League of American Orchestras’ Volunteer Council leads, advocates, and champions volunteer organizations in their efforts to support their orchestras’ community outreach and civic partnerships to advance the experience of orchestral music.
2016 National Conference in Baltimore: Highlights Jane Schwartz, Conference Committee Chair
The 71st National Conference was held in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, home of the renowned Baltimore Symphony Orchestra led by Marin Alsop, from June 8 to June 11. The Conference explored “The Richness of Difference,” reflecting the major demographic changes shaping our country’s cultures and communities today. In concert with the full range of programming which the League provides delegates across the orchestra field, the Volunteer Council curated programming specifically for volunteers, including the presentation of 23 award-winning projects.
The traditional first evening ice-breakers, Dine Arounds, were held at several of Baltimore’s finest restaurants in the Inner Harbor. Groups of four and five spread out across the area for fine food, delightfully creative conversation, and a targeted discussion around what diversity meant to each participant.
Volunteer sessions opened on Thursday morning with a welcome message from Volunteer Council President Linda Weisbruch. Sandy Feldman, President of the Baltimore Symphony Associates (BSA) and Volunteer Council Conference liaison, also greeted the delegates and gave an insider’s glimpse into the Baltimore Symphony. Maureen Patton, both a BSA past president and Volunteer Council Sustainer, highlighted the many attractions of the “Charm City.” Spokane Symphony Associates was awarded the 2016 Classic Award for their Christmas Tree Elegance project.
Eight projects received the Gold Book Award of Excellence this year, including: Arkansas’s All Decked Out Playing Card Fundraiser; Augusta’s Cotillion’s 50th Anniversary; Charlotte’s Heart of the Home Kitchen Tour; Minnesota’s Perfect Square: Kinder Konzerts Commission, Premiere and Regular Season; Oklahoma City’s You’re Never Too Old to Start Over – The ESCCO Project; Quad Cities’ 100 Years, 100 Cellos; and Tyler’s Approach to Scrapbooking and Annual Jazz Spectacular. The Arkansas and Charlotte projects formed a panel entitled “Steal, Copy, Tweak” to showcase how Gold Book projects can be repurposed for the needs of different communities.
Our networking wine and cheese reception, entitled “Sip a Little, Learn A Lot,” featured Pratichi Shah, President and CEO of Flourish Talent Management. Pratichi led us in a lively conversation about diversity and why inclusion is so important for our symphonies.
Eleven projects were presented in the Roundtables session – a fast-paced expo format. These included: Amarillo’s Symphony Kids; Augusta’s Backstage Guardian Angels; Baltimore’s Music Adventures; Charlotte’s Young Artist Competition; Kansas City’s The Sun, The Moon and The Stars Gala; Las Vegas’s Adopt-A-Musician; Madison’s Launching the John DeMain Award; Philadelphia’s Perfect Harmony; Spokane’s Christmas Tree Elegance and Bulletin Board. A “Fashion Forward Fundraising” panel included Dallas’s Fashion Notes, Las Vegas’s Runway Rhythms, and SW Florida’s 2015 Designer Showcase.
As always, our very enthusiastic delegates shared new ideas, challenges, and solutions with each other. Conversation and discussion abounded throughout. Didn’t bring home what you needed? Wish you had been there? We’ve got you covered – you can find all the PowerPoints, scripts, and handouts for each of the Volunteer Projects on the League’s website.
We closed with a preview of our destination for the 72nd Annual Conference – Detroit, June 6-8, 2017. Hope to see you there!
League of American Orchestras Conference Overview
The League of American Orchestras 71st National Conference welcomed nearly 1,000 orchestra managers, musicians, staff, trustees, and volunteers in Baltimore from June 9-11. The Conference focused on orchestra diversity and inclusion, featuring exceptional speakers in both plenary and elective sessions covering artistic innovation, creative fundraising, audience development, technology, financial stability, and more.
Hosted by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Conference kicked off with a performance by the Baltimore Youth Symphony Orchestra and members of the BSO’s OrchKids program, with the opening keynote speech by Earl Lewis, President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. See the video here. Other Conference highlights included a conducting master class with BSO Music Director Marin Alsop, social and networking events, and sessions built for all areas of orchestra management, including, but not limited to, executive directors, marketing and development staff, volunteers, artistic administration, and musicians.
Notable Closing Plenary speakers included DeRay Mckesson, civil rights activist and Dr. Monique Chism, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs, OESE, U.S. Department of Education. Conference came to an inspiring close with an address by The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings, U.S. Representative (MD-7). See his touching address here.
“Diversity, and in particular the place of race and ethnicity, is an urgent national issue, and the League must seize its role to focus attention and help orchestras find pathways, individually and collectively, to take action,” said League President and CEO Jesse Rosen.
It is such an honor to serve as President of the Volunteer Council this coming year. We are already beginning preparations for the League’s 2017 Conference in Detroit, June 6-8, 2017. While volunteers will gather at Conference again eleven months from now, there are lots of great resources available and several activities to reference and utilize in the meantime.
The League, as always, has been at the forefront of our orchestra universe – recognizing trends, reacting quickly and appropriately to re-educate all constituents to operate effectively and efficiently in an ever-changing landscape.
Gold Book: the online site is “open for business” and awaiting your organization’s project submittals from this past fiscal year. Submit your volunteer organization’s project now for consideration to be presented at the 2017 Conference in Detroit.
All projects must be submitted in full by September 6 at goldbookonline.org and must have been completed between July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016. Submission categories include: audience development/community engagement, communication/technology, education, fundraising, leadership/organizational structure, membership, and service projects.
or 646 822 4083.
Strategic Conversations: Please join me and Volunteer Council President-elect Becky Odland (Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra) for these in-depth conversations with your peers.
The series consists of six 60-minute calls on the following Tuesdays at 3:00pm EST: September 27, October 11, October 25, November 8, November 29, and December 13. 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.
To register for this Strategic Conversation, please complete the following online form no later than September 12, 2016. 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!
Note: The tuition fee is $50 for this program – although if you sign up here, you will receive a 20% discount by using the discount code: VOLNOTES.
Looking forward to a wonderful year – wishing everyone great success for you, your members, your organization, and your entire orchestra family,