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Orchestras Invade Dallas
by Stephen Becker 6 Jun 2012

A group representing more than 800 orchestras from around the country is holding its annual conference in Dallas this week. One of the most popular topics at the workshops will be how orchestras can flourish in a difficult economic climate.

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A group representing more than 800 orchestras from around the country is holding its annual conference in Dallas this week. One of the most popular topics at the workshops will be how orchestras can flourish in a difficult economic climate.

KERA Radio story:


About a thousand people will be at the Sheraton Hotel downtown for the League of American Orchestras’ national conference. Their discussion will center on how demographic changes, economic volatility and emerging technologies are forcing orchestras to evolve.

“All of those factors on the one hand present challenges and in many cases are experienced in declines in attendance, declines in philanthropy,” says Jesse Rosen, the president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. “The upside is that it’s an opportunity to kind of adjust and retool and rethink how they meet today’s world and the ways in which people want to be a part of the performing arts.”

Rosen says there’s no catch-all solution to the problems that plague orchestras. Instead, they must think locally about how they can reach music fans. What works in New York may not in Columbus.

So the chief aim of the conference is to share practical solutions that can be tailored to individual orchestras. Among the workshops being held are ones titled “Expanding the New Music Family” and “Inclusion and Diversity: A Big Tent View.”

And this year, the conference is even reaching out to experts in the auto industry who have faced similar challenges. Orchestra musicians are heavily unionized. And so one panel will feature representatives of Ford Motor Company and United Auto Workers to discuss how they improved labor relations.

“Talking amongst ourselves, we bring all of our perspective, our history, our way of looking at the world,” Rosen says. “That’s all well and good, but often when you hear from somebody outside your field, all the sudden light bulbs go off.”

And amid all the talk of music, there will be some actual music played. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra performs tonight, while the Fort Worth Symphony plays Thursday.

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