back from the abys
In the last several months, I had so much to keep me occupied that I literally forgot I had this blog. My position with a DC performing group expanded and I produced several of their concerts, as well as becoming involved in almost every aspect of the organization. On February 1, I took over as their Executive Director, and have been moving at light speed ever since. Although the regular season is (officially) over, I am working feverishly on a celebration event that is designed to be a fund raiser. (All events in the non-profit world are designed to raise money – it’s part of what we do.) In addition to this event, we now have three performances at Wolf Trap Park for the Performing Arts in August. As my husband says, there is no end to the performance season in this house :).
This is the second time I have been an Executive Director for a performing group, but this time has some interesting differences from the last one, as well as some common threads. My present group, The City Choir of Washington, has just completed its second year of existence. The Board is comprised of sixteen very enthusiastic members of the chorus who are looking to me to make sure that there is enough money to guarantee more seasons like the last two. The chorus and their Artistic Director enjoy an extraordinary musical partnership that has resulted in the highest level of music as a unique gift to their audiences. In fact, it would be safe to say that they are quickly becoming the new hot choir in town – and that’s saying a lot for DC. Our city is often referred to as “the choral capitol of the United States.”
In order to keep offering their top-of-the-line musical product to the public, there are some issues to deal with in terms of money. Although many of the singers have performed with their conductor for many years, this is technically a new venture. It is very difficult to get funding for emerging (read: young) organizations, and so far we have been unsuccessful in receiving any grants. This situation has put a lot of pressure on the members and the Board (and me) to give and/or find others to help support our efforts. This is why we are throwing an embassy party for our conductor on May 31. The stated purpose of the reception is to honor our Artistic Director for his long list of achievements during the past 40 years. The sidebar is the establishment of a new monetary initiative to provide funds for orchestras in our concerts. Unless all you perform is unaccompanied music, you have to hire orchestras. Fine players are not hard to find here, but money is another story.
A few weeks ago, someone at a Kennedy Center seminar asked me how it felt to be the administrative head of a new organization during these uncertain economic times. Since I have spent most of my adult life taking risks associated with performing arts groups, I could honestly say that this is simply my latest challenge, and I really mean that. Most days it’s a lot of fun, and it certainly enables me to use the talents and skills I have.
In a much earlier post, I wrote about dealing with volunteers. In order to successfully run this event, I must rely on some of these within our organization. In the last few months I have been lucky enough to find a few wonderful examples of those to whom the term “follow-through” is sacred. Now, if I can only find a few more. Stay tuned for the next episode of what my husband calls “the continuing soap opera.”