Tacoma, WA— Symphony Tacoma is just one of eighteen orchestras and youth orchestras to receive grants of $30,000 each to spark a culture of innovation and learning in U.S. orchestras. Created by the League of American Orchestras to support a variety of forward-thinking and experimental projects, the two-year American Orchestras’ Futures Fund grants, made possible by the generous support of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, focus on artistic vibrancy, civic engagement, and organizational vitality.
“The Futures Fund represents an important part of the incentive and fuel to support orchestras as they pivot and adapt to a dramatically changed environment,” said Jesse Rosen, the League’s President and CEO. “We are grateful to the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for their continued ongoing support and flexibility during this time when it is so urgently needed.”
“The Foundation is pleased to fund these projects that contribute to the long-term sustainability of the art form,” said Lisa Delan, Director of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. “Our support of the League—indeed, the unity of the field itself—is critical as we search for ways not only to endure but to emerge stronger than ever. We are at a crossroads and our only way forward is arm in arm.”
Symphony Tacoma is dedicated to programming regionally impactful music that sheds light on often uncomfortable issues, past and present. The Symphony will master two recordings that will be shared across digital platforms and in traveling educational exhibits:
“Both Fire Mountain and The Tacoma Method are special pieces that speak to the Tacoma Community,” comments Karina Bharne, executive director of Symphony Tacoma. “Our hope in performing these works is to draw attention to both climate change happening on Mount Rainier as well as the Chinese Expulsion from Tacoma in the late 1800s, two topics that are special to our area. We would like to thank the League of American Orchestras for this wonderful opportunity.”
This is the fourth round of the League’s $6 million Futures Fund program; previous grants were announced in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Smaller-budget U.S.-based orchestras and youth orchestras that are members of the League were eligible to apply in this round. An independent review panel selected the orchestras based on criteria including evidence of organizational readiness and the project’s potential for long-term impact. Each proposal was required to address at least one of three categories: Artistic Vibrancy (e.g., innovative approaches to performance and programming); Organizational Vitality (e.g., work addressing new organizational models that explore alternatives to traditional operating models and leadership structures and which redefine relationships among organizational stakeholders); and Civic Engagement (e.g., programs on or off the stage that are responsive to and reflective of their communities and the key issues the communities face). In order to facilitate field-wide learning, grant applicants were encouraged to focus on ways their orchestras could develop, share, and document new ways of working both locally and across the field.
Reflecting the potential of new ways of thinking and flexibility during this time of tremendous challenge and uncertainty, the funded programs’ areas of focus vary greatly. The League—with the encouragement and approval of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation—offered grantees flexible alternative options for using their Futures Fund grant. Projects include a traveling music float in Kentucky permitting residents to social-distance while enjoying music from their front lawns; an alternative medical program in Georgia utilizing mindfulness-based music therapy; a commissioning program for composers of color in Maryland aiming to diversify the pool of composers who write for youth orchestras; an intensive after-school music and social program for students in communities in El Paso, near the Texas- Mexico border; and a New Jersey partnership with Nokia Labs creating new chamber music works using C4C technology to turn audiences’ phones into speakers at live concerts. All the initiatives demonstrate the innovative measures orchestras are taking to grow their audiences and increase their relevance during the pandemic.