American Mavericks 2012

american mavericks logo BIG

The San Francisco Symphony is celebrating its Centennial this season with gusto -- they've invited six major American orchestras to perform in their home at Davies Symphony Hall, created three national symposia on the state of American orchestras, issued new recordings and produced new television, web, and radio broadcasts, and produced the second American Mavericks festival, the brainchild of the Symphony’s energetic music director, Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT). The festival ended Sunday in San Francisco and now is traveling to Chicago, Ann … [Read more...]

The problem with problemization

Snapshot of 2009 foundation funding, from Foundation Center and GIA Reader

I wasn't sure whether or not problemization was a word until I looked it up and found that it is one. Problemization is to consider or treat as a problem (Merriam Webster). I've been thinking about this a lot. The reason is that increasingly when you look at a foundation’s grant guidelines you are asked: “What problem are you trying to solve?" I put the following into Google: “Foundation funding what problem are you trying to solve.” The search result: 182 million hits that included dozens of foundations’ guidelines and many articles about … [Read more...]

“The Perilous Life of Symphony Orchestras”

Robert J. Flanagan

Stanford Emeritus Professor Robert J. Flanagan's book, The Perilous Life of Symphony Orchestras, Artistic Triumphs and Economic Challenges, was just released from Yale University Press and will be of interest to anyone working in, volunteering for, or listening to orchestras. The slim volume is jammed with interesting data, and its extensive bibliography will be helpful to readers who want to delve even deeper into the subject of the economics of symphony orchestras and their prospects for financial health and artistic vitality. Flanagan's … [Read more...]

Can you teach resourcefulness?


On the agenda at a recent Board of Overseers' meeting at the Curtis Institute of Music were past graduates, some with non-traditional careers both in music and not, speaking about the preparation their Curtis education provided them. The backdrop to the conversation was a speech the previous afternoon by Derek Bok, who advocated for the importance of liberal education beyond music as an essential component of an artist's preparation.  The context for the entire discussion was the current state of the classical music field and the idea that … [Read more...]

Whither classical music radio

Jasper's Antique Radio Museum (thanks to trustynick)

The Station Resource Group and Walrus Research, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, published a report in June on the Performance of Classical Music Stations.   The report is part of a larger effort at the Station Resource Group to advance thinking around what it would take to expand audiences for public radio stations of all types.  Organized under the project name Grow The Audience, this multi-year effort has convened station leaders, studied high-performing stations, commissioned research, and published provocations … [Read more...]

What I learned from Bill Kling

Bill Kling photo in studio from the MPR web site

Today was Bill Kling's final day of work as President of Minnesota Public Radio, where he's led the development of the largest and arguably the most successful public radio organization in the United States.  His 44-year tenure has been marked by a series of bold, anticipatory moves that taken together more than earn him the title of Visionary. I worked at MPR for 9 years in a variety of roles, worked with MPR for the prior 9 years as a representative of one of the network's largest funders, and work now for an organization that counts MPR … [Read more...]

This consumer movement should help us


In a recent book and several articles (Huffington Post, Strategy+Business, Forbes, others - just Google "Spend Shift"), John Gerzema and Michael D'Antonio describe a new breed of consumers they've named "Spend Shifts."   The co-authors say that the Spend Shift movement began before the Great Recession and consists of a large, diverse demographic group who "realize that how they spend money is a form of power, and are moving from mindless consumption to mindful consumption, increasingly taking care to purchase goods and services from sellers … [Read more...]

Check out the proposals to change the deductibility of charitable gifts

CBO report cover

In a previous post I wrote about a New York Times story detailing efforts that some in the federal government are exerting to help close the federal budget gap by changing the tax treatment of charitable giving.  Beyond the revenue-raising potential of any curtailment of the charitable deduction, some policymakers are advocating for changes in the charitable deduction within the framework of tax reform, with the aim of correcting perceived inequities in the ability of taxpayers at varying income levels (both low and high income households) to … [Read more...]

Things heat up at the League of American Orchestras’ conference

Yesterday morning, more than 800 delegates to the League of American Orchestras' 2011 conference in Minneapolis-Saint Paul gathered for "Red Alert," a 90+ minute plenary session that framed the critical issues facing American orchestras and proposed solutions.  Jesse Rosen, the League's president, began by putting a stake in the ground, stating that the current problems faced by many (not all) orchestras cannot be attributed to the economy but instead are symptomatic of underlying trends and conditions that have been brewing for decades.  It is … [Read more...]

Need to get more done? Maybe you need help


The May 2011 issue Harvard Business Review is dedicated to "How to Get More Done," a topic that consumes a lot of us as we try to do more with less, while simultaneously pedaling uphill during our current recession.  There are a few good articles in the issue but the one that got me thinking is about the role of administrative support (The Case for Executive Assistants by Melba J. Duncan is available here.)  The point of the article is that cutting back on support staff is not a route to productivity for a team, and that, in fact, adding … [Read more...]