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.

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