First Detailed Report on US #Orchestras’ Education and Outreach Work

Study Finds Growth in Number of EdCE Program Participants, Diversity of Participants, School and Community Partnerships, and More. Almost Two Thirds of Participants Took Part in EdCE Programming Free of Charge, and 85% of all EdCE Sessions Took Place Outside of the Concert Hall.

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Orchestras: relevant to kids & people & coummunity

New York, NY (August 15, 2017) – For the first time, the League of American Orchestras has issued a detailed report on the scope and scale of orchestras’ education and community engagement (EdCE) work.

Of and For the Community examines the purpose and scope of these activities, reporting on topics including EdCE programming, participant diversity, community partnerships, investments in professional development, and income and expenditure for EdCE concerts and events. While the League last surveyed member orchestras on EdCE programming in 2008, the report is the first to investigate current field interests such as diversification of orchestra EdCE programming and artistic costs associated with this work.

Orchestras reported growth over the period 2009-14 on each of the following measures:

  • the number of EdCE participants engaged;
  • the racial/ethnic diversity of EdCE participants;
  • the number of EdCE concerts produced;
  • the range of EdCE activity types undertaken;
  • the extent of school and community partnerships developed;
  • the number of staff hours dedicated to EdCE activity; and
  • the budget available for EdCE work, relative to the orchestra’s overall budget.

Almost two thirds of participants took part in EdCE programming free of charge, and 85% of all EdCE sessions took place outside of the concert hall.

“More than ever before, education and community engagement programming is central to orchestras’ organizational visions, as they actively seek out new opportunities for creative expression and connection,” said League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen. “The League has been a catalyst for addressing this profound shift in our field’s focus, and we’re seeing increases in the scope of this work and a greater acknowledgement of its importance.”

Making use of the League’s field-wide data and drawing on a dedicated survey of League of American Orchestras’ member orchestras, the study looks at both the current landscape and longitudinal trends from the five-year period between 2009 and 2014. The 98 survey respondents included adult orchestras with and without affiliated youth orchestras, as well as independent youth orchestras. U.S. orchestras of all sizes from across the country took part.

Key findings from Of and For the Community:

  • Growth and diversity of participants:

82% of orchestras surveyed stated that the number of EdCE participants in their programs had increased over the five-year period 2009-2014.

70% of all EdCE participants were believed to be 18 years old or younger.
61% of orchestras reported that their EdCE participant base was more diverse in 2014 than it had been in 2009.
38% of EdCE participants were believed to be African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, or American Indian/Alaskan Native, and 62% were believed to be white.

  • Diversification of the range of EdCE program types:

69% of survey respondents confidently reported a greater range of program types in 2014 than in 2009.

  • Increase in number of EdCE concerts: 

Almost half of the survey cohort reported that the number of EdCE concerts they performed had increased during the five-year period 2009-2014.

  • Increase in partnerships with school and community-based organizations:

Two thirds of all responding orchestras reported that the extent of their partnership work had increased during the five-year period 2009-14.
79% of orchestras surveyed reported working with schools.
63% reported working with community (non-school) partner organizations.
34% had worked with (non-school) community partners focused on youth engagement.
26% had worked with health and wellness organizations.
24% had worked with senior services providers.
17% had worked with organizations focused on racial diversity and inclusion.
13% had partnered with organizations working to address poverty in their communities.
Orchestras also reported having worked with organizations dedicated to homelessness (10%), mental health (8.2%), domestic violence and abuse (4.1%), criminal justice (3.1%), bullying (3.1%), young people in the foster care system (3.1%), and school drop outs (3.1%).

  • Orchestras’ investment in EdCE work is increasing:

Almost half (47%) of the 85 orchestras in our cohort of adult orchestras (and their affiliated youth orchestras) stated definitively that the budget available for EdCE programming increased in the period 2009-14, relative to their overall budget.

  • Orchestras serve communities:

Almost two thirds of participants took part in EdCE programming free of charge.
85% of all EdCE sessions (incorporating both concerts and other musical activities and events) took place outside of the concert hall.
83% of orchestras surveyed offer the opportunity to meet musicians and/or explore orchestral instruments.
Over 80% offer performances by smaller professional groups of orchestral musicians, which enables this work to take place in a wider range of community venues.
73% offer in-person lectures or talks.
73% of community-based EdCE sessions took place in schools.
68% of orchestras surveyed present family or school concerts, making the unique cultural experience of the full symphony orchestra welcoming and accessible to a large community audience.
61%* offer the opportunity for amateur musicians to rehearse and perform alongside orchestra musicians (*percentage does not include independent youth orchestras).
51%* offer individual instrumental instruction (*percentage does not include independent youth orchestras).
34%* run a community orchestra for adults, and 30%* run an adult community choir (*percentages do not include independent youth orchestras).
27% of community-based EdCE sessions took place in non-school venues including:

  • healthcare setting
  • civic institutions (such as museums or libraries)
  • religious buildings
  • civic spaces (such as parks and town squares)
  • care homes for the elderly
  • youth and community centers
  • criminal justice settings
  • community festivals or parades
  • social care centers
  • shelters

Download Of and For the Community: The Education and Community Engagement Work of Orchestras here.

This report was made possible by the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Read the full press release here.

Orchestras on the offensive: More than audience development!

In a rapidly and profoundly changing environment it is essential to make orchestras ‘future-proof’. Issues such as audience development, education and outreach programmes, or corporate identity have been high on the list of priorities for some time. Cultural organizations have to embrace change and see its potentials, to use technological tools and be open for unorthodox ideas.

Orchestras: relevant to kids & people & coummunity

Orchestras: relevant to kids & people & coummunity

Orchestras should think on their ‘dramaturgy’: an integrated approach involving all departments of his house – artistic management, media and PR, marketing, fundraising – to address the question: how can classical music remain relevant and demonstrate this relevance? In particular the internet has accelerated processes of cultural learning and un-learning. For classical music, this is both a challenge and a chance.

Orchestras have to offer a broad range of programmes aimed at reaching a diverse range of audiences, diverse target groups through a mix of formats, concepts and locations that reflect the social, cultural and economic heterogeneity of their home city. All, however, are held together by a commitment to the highest artistic standards.

Orchestras have to focus strongly on their youth outreach programme. They should encompass a broad and varied range of activities both in-house and outside: school sponsorships, radio features, participatory concerts. The great importance attached to these activities should be also demonstrated by the fact that despite tight budgets there are several full-time positions necessary to organize the outreach programme. Youth outreach is so important. Therefor orchestras might offer soecial music subscriptions for pre-school children.

Beside the educational and outreach business orchestras must also go for high-impact mass events, staging a partially free open-air performance of operas as well as a ‘Last Night of the Proms’, which attracts several thousand live listeners and more on the radio and/or online – music as an emotional spectacle for the people. Another good tool is the ‘music van’, taking the orchestra on tour to schools, social services, zoos, parks or the mountains, emulating the travelling musicians of old.

Co-operations between symphony orchestras and freelancers

There are a couple of the central issues raised by co-operations between permanent ensembles and freelancers: while the latter are commonly hired to address specific needs or reach particular audiences – and in this capacity often do excellent work – the two parties may not necessarily see eye to eye.

Working together with freelancers

Working together with freelancers

Co-operation between symphony orchestras and independent partners are fairly common for educational activities, as they are often project-based. Artistic co-operations are becoming more frequent, too, and they can give creative impulses and reach out for new audiences, though this has to be weighed against greater organizational efforts. Experiences are similar for co-operations between independents and opera houses, for example, by the Deutsche Oper Berlin and its new experimental space “Tischlerei” (“Joiner’s Workshop”): opera houses can offer resources usually unavailable to fringe ensembles, yet again, work styles are often markedly different, thus requiring more coordination. Immigration policies and their cultural aspects are a particularly interesting, but also difficult area in which independent artists or groups can play a role.

A case study of the Komische Oper Berlin in particular and its outreach activities towards audiences with a migrant background – typically hard to reach – shows how difficult (but necessary) co-operation is in practice and that there must be answers about the integration of migrant staff. Many of these aspects are also reflected in discussions with freelance artists. Artists of independent performance projects often do have their special experiences with orchestras and opera houses: variations from enthusiasm for fresh ideas and willingness to adapt working processes to reservations over perceived non-professionalism. This is a leadership challenge for every management.

Looking abroad to the UK and the USA, where independent artists and ensembles are much more common shows the differences due to the lower number of public orchestras in comparison to Germany and Central Europe. Very special is the relation from institutions to the “teaching artist”, who is much more than a music pedagogue, but a highly-trained, if independent, professional.