Highlighting the groundswell of innovation occurring at smaller-budget orchestras and youth orchestras across the country, seventeen orchestras have received $30,000 American Orchestras’ Futures Fund grants from the League of American Orchestras, made possible with the generous support of the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation. An additional five orchestras were selected to receive seed grants of $6,000 each.

"These orchestras are in the forefront of experimentation and visionary problem-solving, and the League is proud to support this work for the benefit of the orchestra field," commented League President and CEO Jesse Rosen. "I’m grateful to the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation for enabling orchestras to incubate innovative practice, and look forward to the knowledge and research developed around these exciting initiatives."

"We’re energized and encouraged by the momentum of our continued partnership with the League through the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund," added Lisa Delan, Director of the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation. "The initiatives by smaller-budget and youth orchestras in this round of grants represent the range of innovation, impact, and collaboration we envisioned when we approached the League. And I am personally gratified to witness the commitment by these grantees to reach diverse populations within their communities."

The Futures Fund grantees from across the country are seizing opportunities in the current environment. These include giving life to contemporary repertoire by American composers, developing imaginative concert experiences and cross-cultural artistic programming, increasing diversity and access to music education, connecting with new immigrants and underserved populations, extending reach via digital streaming initiatives, investing in valuable audience development research, and working with multiple populations in rural and urban regions. Descriptions of the initiatives supported through the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund can be found here.

The $4.5 million American Orchestras’ Future Fund program included a first round of grants for larger-budget orchestras, announced in 2017. For this second round, smaller-budget and youth orchestras that are based in the U.S. and that are members of the League of American Orchestras were eligible to apply. An independent review panel selected the orchestras based on criteria including significant investments in organizational learning, meaningful partnerships with community organizations, and an ability to assess and adapt practices for continuous innovation. In addition to recommending seventeen orchestras for the full two-year grant, the panel recognized the creative promise that several orchestras demonstrated and designated an additional award in the form of a seed grant for five orchestras to support their continued organizational work towards the goals outlined.

This round’s Futures Fund recipients ($30,000 grants) include:

The American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (VA) – expansion of the Music Buddies mentoring program to underserved areas, where school music provision is limited or non-existent.

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (MA) – The Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s mission is to give life to orchestral classics of the 20th and 21st centuries, largely by American composers, that are often overlooked in the standard repertoire.

California Symphony – launch of a pilot adult education program called Fresh Look: The Symphony Exposed, marketed in English and Spanish, with on-site live Spanish interpretation.

Central Ohio Symphony – support for a program with students at Delaware Hayes High School to include increasing student concert attendance and assessing the relevance of the symphony’s programming.

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (IL) – support for the orchestras’ Inclusion Audit to ensure that the organization is optimally inclusive and representative of Chicago’s diverse community.

Contemporary Youth Orchestra (OH) – support for building cross-sector partnerships using programs in dance, theater, and photography to address socioeconomic barriers to children’s equal access to music education.

El Paso Symphony Orchestra (TX) – support for the Tocando After School Music Project’s Feeder School Initiative providing high-quality music education, cultural awareness, and performance opportunities to elementary and middle school students.

Empire State Youth Orchestra (NY) – launch of ACCESS ESYO, an online "pay what you can" ticketing program to meet the needs of an increasingly economically diverse membership.

Evansville Philharmonic (IN) – support for audience development research: qualitative research sessions and repeating a 2017 survey to understand change resulting from newly-instituted promotions and programming.

Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra (WI) – support for the In Harmony program for youths and adults with special needs, presenting a music-therapy informed performance at special needs classrooms and adult day centers.

Greensboro Symphony Orchestra (NC) – expansion of the OrKIDStra program, a music education series featuring tailored curriculum and site-visits by GSO musicians, to four rural counties, reaching an estimated 2,000 Head Start students.

Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (CA) – support for the Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship, assisting persons from historically underrepresented communities to succeed in auditions with U.S. orchestras

Lima Symphony (OH) – support for an initiative bringing a series of ensemble performances and discussions with a mental health facilitator to a center for at-risk youth, a mental health treatment facility, and a housing complex for people struggling with addiction.

Lubbock Symphony (TX) – development of a new concert series designed to attract new audiences; LSO will experiment with venues, lighting, staging, electronic amplification, video, narration, and attire to create an engaging atmosphere.

New Bedford Symphony (MA) – support for an assessment of the orchestra’s educational programming which will measure the impact of a concept-based arts integrated program and explore issues that arise when assessing education programs.

Project 440 (PA) – support for a creative youth development curriculum that utilizes music as a tool to teach social entrepreneurship, leadership, and service to high school musicians, and provides them with the career and life skills necessary for success, on and off the stage.

Youth Orchestras of San Antonio (TX) – support for the Rising Star Fellows program, offering comprehensive support and resources to promising young African American, Hispanic, and Native American musicians from around San Antonio communities.

Seed Grant Recipients ($6,000):

Akron Symphony (OH) – support for work with the city’s immigrant population -refugees from Nepal, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, both adult musicians and high school students in the North High School immigrant orchestra.

InterSchool Orchestras of New York – support for a collaboration with the youth division of Ballet Hispanico to create a diverse, cross-cultural, orchestral and dance work for presentation at a major venue in New York City in spring 2019.

Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra – support for Lab Group, a collaborative composing ensemble; high-school student musicians work with staff facilitators to create new work, an entry point into group music-making.

The Lexington Philharmonic (KY) – support for creating a series of collaborative music programs in non-traditional venues, increasing participation and engagement in music by more diverse communities.

Tulsa Symphony Orchestra (OK) – support for an organization-wide review and analysis of the orchestra’s strategic plan; TSO is reviewing and analyzing their innovative model of orchestral governance.

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