League of American Orchestras Releases Five-Year Strategic Plan 2016 – 2020

The League of American Orchestras’ Board of Directors has announced the organization’s blueprint for the future: Creativity, Engagement, Impact: The League of American Orchestras’ Strategic Plan, 2016-2020 http://www.americanorchestras.org/strategy). The plan comes at a moment of great possibility in the orchestral field, as orchestras are embracing the opportunities presented by the current environment with vigor and ingenuity.


“Orchestras are keenly aware of profound changes in their environment,” said Jesse Rosen, the League’s President and CEO. “Building upon the field’s momentum, the five-year Strategic Plan addresses a wide array of critical issues and internal and external field challenges in response to broad social, demographic, and technological changes, affirming the League’s vital role as a catalyst, convener, and source of knowledge.”

Synthesizing feedback from member orchestras and other stakeholders, including musicians, funders, external partners, and League board and staff, the plan identifies five outward- and inward-focused strategic priorities:
• Advancing the orchestral experience
• Developing the orchestral field
• Better serving members
• Strengthening the League’s business model
• Growing the League’s capacity

The organization’s mission and vision have also been refreshed. The mission is now: 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 vision is now: The orchestral experience is shared by all and supported by artistically vibrant, robust, and civically engaged organizations; and the League is an indispensable leader, resource, and voice for the orchestra community and its value to the public.

The League’s previous plan, Supporting Orchestras in a New Era, guided the League through a large-scale global economic recession. Since then, the field has pushed forward on a variety of fronts, and the new plan addresses such critical issues as the need for diversity, community impact and relevance, public perception, technological advances, and fiscal health. Internal and external challenges identified by League members and stakeholders are also assessed in the plan, such as music education, demographic change, changing patterns of philanthropy, and changing patterns in the use of leisure time.

Rosen commented, “Looking from 30,000 feet at the evolution taking place, orchestras continue to strive for excellence in performance, but now bring equal attention to the nature of the orchestral experience itself: the interplay with different audiences; synergistic and authentic engagement with communities; expanding roles of musicians, composers, and conductors as ambassadors, advocates, and educators; and increasing activity in lifelong learning and civic participation.

“The League will embrace our commitment to support orchestras and promote public understanding of their role in civic and community life. We will lead our members in collectively advancing, articulating, and advocating for the essential experience that only orchestras can provide.”

The planning effort was led by a strategic planning task force of the Board of the League of American Orchestras. The task force was chaired by Steven C. Parrish, vice-chair of the Board. The process was facilitated by AEA Consulting.

• Find a brief overview of the plan here: http://americanorchestras.org/strategyglance
• Find an abridged and full version of the plan, both of which contain the President’s introduction, here: http://americanorchestras.org/strategy

Read the full release here.


Intelligent advertising for orchestras?

An intelligent orchestra marketing strategy needs good content, a central idea and a powerful transmission of the core mission statement. TV or internet commercials on youtube are important parts of the campaign. This is at least simply an advertising business.

In practice you will find very often (funny) commercials for a special issue, the next season, a  new chief conductor or a special concert. Sometimes orchestras spend lots of bucks for those commercials. Before investing money, think on the strategy.

Find here a couple of interesting short videos from various orchestras…

The Stavanger Symphony (Norway) takes a wild parachute or man rocket ride at the mountainside for promoting its brand slogan with the music from Richard Wagner. But where is the inexchangeable icon? Where is the very special mission of this orchestra? You could put in almost every Norwegian orchestra or many other orchestras wordwide. Nice video, but where is the authentic message from the orchestra?

Another example comes from Nashville Symphony announcing a new chief conductor.  You see the conductor in several places downtown Nashville conducting traffic or fountains. The final message on his shirt says “I like Nashville!” Isn’t this a little bit too poor for introducing a new conductor to the local audience?

Third example: the Czech Philharmonic announces the 2012/2013 season. The orchestra is performing, jumping, throwing bowes, moving on the chairs, some wind players are playing more than one instrument simultaneously etc.  Again funny to watch, but what is the core message? Join our concerts, it’s all fun? This might be dangerous, because people sitting in the concert for the first time could shocked from a “real” orchestra concert, which is mostly not funny at all.

To sum up: 
Before you create commercial gimmick movies (which might be fairly o.k. for special purposes), think a little bit more on the core message and the orchestras brand in behind.

Mission statement – recreated

There are professional orchestras all over the world, which don’t have any mission statement. Many of them are getting substantial public subsidies. Does public money, collected from the tax payer, perhaps kill motivation, flexibility and creatitivity of the orchestra management? Does only the need for private and corporate giving urge an orchestra to develop a mission statement?
On the other hand: If you take a look on the existing mission statements of major orchestras, wording is similiar and mission statements are at least replaceable. Of course every orchestra should be willing to be relevant to the community in the area where it performs, it should bring (almost classical) music to the people etc.
But: A mission statement is not a simple marketing tool. The mission of an orchestra should show its unique feature. The question is: Who is the orchestra? Is it the conductor? No. Is it the management? Well, honestly speaking not. It’s the musicians! However, many orchestras are still following the picture of “99 fiddling penguins”. The shortest but to me most convincing mission is used by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra: 128 virtuosi – 1 orchestra (pictured). Berlin Phil members understand themselves as ambassadors of their orchestra. They live their mission. The outstanding artistic and economic success of this orchestra foundation is a conclusive evidence.
My recommendation: Think about this, recreate your mission statement and center every single musician as an unique artist.Mission of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra