The Spotlight Award highlights a unique tactic or concept that can be used by other volunteer organizations in their future projects. Here we present the six award winners for 2020. Later in November we will have a synopsis of each winning project on the League website; but for now, please enjoy reading about them below!
Concluding 32 Years of Parties of Note in 2020
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) Volunteers
Sarah Maguire, Volunteer Manager and Patricia Wagner
Over the past 32 seasons, Parties of Note has been a series of events presented by CSO volunteers with the goal of raising awareness and funds in support of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops. The program had two goals: 1) give patrons the opportunity to attend several fundraising events throughout the year with unique programs, venues, and lower ticket prices and 2) raise money with minimal expense or risk to the organization. Until that time, fundraising involved large-scale events that incurred major expenses that had to be recovered with high ticket prices to net significant revenue.
Parties of Note presented smaller, more intimate gatherings, often in the host's home. Each season of parties featured a wide range of venues, cuisine, and entertainment, including CSO musicians. The key to financial success was that hosts incurred 100% of the expenses. (These musical feasts have been adopted by several symphony volunteer organizations through the years.)
The CSO is beginning to use this time in history to assess their past and understand their necessary role in society to create change and improve the lives of all they serve, especially when it comes to addressing systemic racism. CSO is retiring this program and will shift resources to support other facets of strategic planning like the one mentioned above. The net revenue for the 32 years was $1,400,000.
Firebird Symphony Ball 2019
Symphony League of Kansas City
Pam Bruce, President and Mary Leonida
There were several goals for the Ball. However, the primary goal was to raise essential operating funds for the Kansas City Symphony. In addition, they wanted to explore some innovative concepts for the event while maintaining many longstanding traditions.
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
It was decided to hold the Ball for the very first time at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the performance home of the Kansas City Symphony. Selecting this venue likely would attract many new guests and please returning patrons. Moreover, hearing the symphony perform at the Kauffman Center’s Helzberg Hall would showcase the talented musicians to guests who may not ordinarily attend symphony performances.
The Firebird theme was chosen to compliment the orchestra's playing of the Firebird Suite as part of the program for the Ball. The hall was decorated in a Firebird theme as well and even some of the attendees dressed in bright colors!
Adjusting the budget to accommodate a completely new venue was among the challenges they faced. It required that they had to precisely determine the flow and logistics of the evening as guests moved about the performing arts complex. Net revenue for this event was $604,405.
Houston Symphony League
Fran Peterson, President and April Lykos
The Houston Symphony League used out-of-the-box thinking to come up with the concept of Pop-Ups. Pop-Ups are mini-fundraisers of unlimited variety, held to raise money and contribute toward the goal of a major event, in this case, Magical Musical Morning. To assist in meeting this goal, the League created two Pop-Ups: (1) Magical Musical Morning Salon Concert, a concert/dinner in a donor home with a Houston Symphony musician; and (2) Magical Musical Morning Tea at Kiran’s, a morning tea enhanced by a harpist, champagne, and fascinators. The League is always assessing how they can raise more net revenues and open opportunities to increase their membership base. The Pop-Ups achieved that and more. Its targeted, smaller scale and unlimited themes made it a perfect base to raise money and highlight the attributes of the League and the symphony – thus, becoming attractive to donors and new members alike.
Pop-Ups are a great source of additional revenue and a way to gain traction for a larger event. They can also be stand-alone events. Donor support is not one-size-fits-all; Pop-Ups provided unique, smaller, targeted and special micro-events that raised money to support the Houston Symphony. The net revenue for this event was $10,000.
CSO 125 Anniversary Timeline 2020
Cincinnati Symphony Volunteer Program
Sarah Maguire, Volunteer Manager and Patricia Wagner
As the CSO started looking toward celebrating 125 years, it was decided that the plethora of articles, photos, and other historical information about the orchestra that existed needed to be reviewed, organized, and exhibited in some way that would show the history of the orchestra, while still focusing on the future. The staff’s goal was to produce an electronic timeline that would be available online from the orchestra’s website and launched during the anniversary weekend in January 2020.
The biggest obstacle was the volume of information. What seemed like an endless number of artifacts was stored at the public library: 423 boxes held concert programs, scrapbooks, magazines, audiovisual materials in multiple formats, awards, photographs, posters, and printed publicity and public relations materials. Volunteers worked with the library staff to identify the boxes and to scan and/or photograph items for uploading to the website.
When the project began in 2018, it was unknown what the final product(s) would be. These efforts culminated in the creation of an accessible online timeline, a program insert, a photographic display at the annual gala fundraiser, and as inspirational material for a series of musical talks by the CSO's music director.
All data has been organized and stored electronically as an archive for future access. By building an electronic timeline, their history is now available worldwide and is easily accessible from their website.
MSOL Connect 2020
Madison Symphony Orchestra League (MSOL)
Beth Rahko, President and Janet Cabot
The Madison Symphony Orchestra and the MSOL understand the need to maintain their connection with their patrons and subscribers during this extended closure. They realized that without in-person events, they had to find a different way to stay connected on an ongoing basis. Their MSOL Connect project was born out of the belief that by offering informative and educational programs related to music and involving musicians, staff, and musical experts from the community, they could provide meaningful and relevant engagement for members during this time.
They needed to connect in the short term as well as to stay relevant and meaningful in the long term. Longer-term, not knowing when they would be able to meet again, they didn't want to "go dark" for an extended period. Discussion in board meetings turned to how best to stay connected. The idea of holding a series of virtual events for members was suggested and board members volunteered to serve on a committee to develop the concept.
This project was intended to be a member benefit. Attracting non-members to join would be a bonus, but was not the goal. However, as they continue these online presentations, they will be encouraging members to invite a friend to participate as a recruitment tool. These virtual events need not be a concert; they can be sessions covering a variety of topics instead of a concert. The inaugural event featured Steve Kurr, a dynamic instructor, musicologist, and conductor, who narrated an hour-long tour of the life, music, and legacy of Beethoven. A second event "Humor & Classical Music" was held later. The MSO League used the Zoom platform to put on these virtual events.
Designer House 2020
Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Guild (ASOG)
Teresa Osam, President and Camille Williams
The designers completed the home, the home was professionally photographed for the ASOG program, and then the world shut down because of COVID-19. After sitting on the project for a few weeks and debating on how to proceed or if to proceed at all, the board decided to proceed with a goal of netting $50,000.
They first determined that in a normal year their event typically does not have an issue with large crowds. Normally people tour the home throughout the day in small numbers. They came up with the opportunity for guests to tour the home privately with a designer in small groups of six or twenty for a donation. These were two-hour tours and were done during off hours of the house. These guests could tour the home in the safety of their own group and with all safety rules intact. They also created a safety walk tour through the house which proved to be successful the guests loved it. Because their guests had been homebound and wanted to get out, they also loved their safe shopping gift shop. Local vendors stocked the gift shop with amazing items, resulting in revenues equal to those made in years not affected by COVID-19.
The ASOG learned that they did not need as many volunteers as they originally thought and, that they could maintain social distancing. They learned that creating a tour path was much needed for their guests. They learned that continuing their private tours during off hours was a huge donation generator. They met their revenue goal for this project of $50,000.
2020-21 League Volunteer Council
Our Mission: The purpose of the Volunteer Council is to support the mission of the League of American Orchestras by providing leadership, communication, and a resource link between the League and orchestra volunteers.
Cindy Kidwell, President (Tyler, TX)
Julie Meredith, President-Elect (Salt Lake City, UT)
Beth Wise, Conference Chair (Huntsville, AL)
Ginny Lundquist, Conference Chair-Elect (Detroit, MI)
Terry Ann White, Immediate Past President (Amarillo, TX)
Sally Bullard (Philadelphia, PA)
Janet Cabot (Madison, WI)
Darlene Clark (Houston, TX)
Bruce Colquhoun (Spokane, WA)
Marena Gault, AMSOV rep. (Dallas, TX)
Sharon Hatchett (Chicago, IL)
Donna Hoffman (Orlando, FL)
Charlotte Lewis (New Orleans, LA)
Kathy Leibrand (Kansas City, MO)
Laurie Skjerseth (Bettendorf, IA)
Irene Sohm (Santa Rosa, CA)
Camille Williams (Little Rock, AR)