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Welcome to our League Leading newsletter. It provides orchestra fans with an update on what’s happening at the League of American Orchestras. With a membership of 2,000 individuals and organizations, the League leads, supports, and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. We’re the only national organization dedicated solely to advancing the orchestral experience for all.

Increasing diversity in American orchestras: a NAAS update

National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS)

Now in its second year, the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS), an unprecedented national initiative to increase diversity in American orchestras, has already made an impact in the lives of more than 100 orchestra musicians of color and in dozens of U.S. orchestras.

  • Since August 2018, 261 NAAS grants have been awarded to 107 musicians, totaling $254,595.93. The grants enable musicians to take part in auditions, pursue substitute or short-term playing opportunities, or repair their instruments.
  • Out of 189 auditions taken, twelve resulted in jobs.
  • 35 Substitute Musician Grants supported musicians substituting with thirteen orchestras.
  • The number of Orchestra Partners providing financial contributions to support the program has nearly doubled, increasing from 41 to 74.
  • In 2018-19, 68 musicians participated in five NAAS Audition Intensives for strings, low strings, and winds and brass. Hosted by the New World Symphony, NAAS Audition Intensives offer mock auditions, lessons, and performance psychology training to Black and Latinx orchestras musicians. Faculty included a performance psychologist and musicians from several U.S. orchestras.
  • The Alliance is guided by four advisory groups: Eleven orchestras are members of the Orchestra Advisory Group; eleven are in the Orchestra Personnel Managers Group; eleven are in the NAAS Higher Education Group; and seven Black and Latinx professional orchestral musicians serve as advisors to the Alliance on the NAAS Artists Council.

The National Alliance for Audition Support is made up of The Sphinx Organization, the lead program and fiscal administrator; the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy; and the League of American Orchestras, representing 700 orchestras.

The NAAS is supported by a four-year grant of $1.8M from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as well as contributions from orchestras across the U.S. The Alliance is also grateful to the American Federation of Musicians, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, and the Regional Orchestra Players Association for their participation and support.


2019 League policy victories set the stage for 2020 advocacy

League of American Orchestras Advocate

Two important policy priorities that were advanced in Congress by the League of American Orchestras will directly increase orchestras’ capacity to serve their communities. On December 20, 2019, measures that will remove a tax on nonprofit parking and commuting benefits and increase resources in support of the arts were signed into law. The 21% Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) on nonprofit parking and commuting benefits was retroactively repealed. The League has been a leading voice (PDF) in Washington, rallying orchestra advocates from coast to coast, raising awareness on Capitol Hill, and partnering with nonprofits across the sector to make the case for removing this harmful tax. The same policy package also increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts by $7.25 million, protected current-level funding for the Arts in Education programs of the U.S. Department of Education, and increased the Title IV-A “Well-Rounded” education funding stream administered by states in support of local schools. Stay tuned for how your orchestra can stay engaged in policy efforts throughout 2020!


Meet twelve emerging orchestra leaders

Emerging Leaders Program

They’re part of the latest cohort of the League’s eight-month Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). This year’s program began in the fall of 2019 with a three-day meeting in New York City. ELP also includes one-to-one coaching, in-depth seminars led by leadership experts, visits with leaders in cultural and performing arts institutions, virtual convenings, and a capstone project culminating at the League’s 2020 National Conference in Minneapolis-St. Paul (June 10-12). The curriculum develops participants’ individual leadership capabilities and serves to advance strategic thinking, resiliency, and innovation throughout the orchestra field. “These twelve professionals are stewards of our field’s future,” said President and CEO Jesse Rosen. “They will hone their skills and strategic vision through this flagship League of American Orchestras leadership development program, while building a cohort of colleagues they can learn from in years to come.” 

Launched in 2014, the Emerging Leaders Program is the newest chapter in the League’s history of developing orchestral leaders. Along with its previous iteration, the Orchestra Management Fellowship Program, the Emerging Leaders Program has advanced the development of more than 200 alumni—now executive directors and senior executives of orchestras. Learn about the current cohort.

The Emerging Leaders Program is made possible by generous grants from American Express, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Abuzz: “We were interested in The Catalyst Fund…”

The Catalyst Fund

“…because we desire to further diversify our student body, our staff, and our board of directors to look more like the communities we serve.” 

~Helen Cha-Pyo, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, New Jersey Youth Symphony, speaking about a grant received from the League’s Catalyst Fund, which aims to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion in American orchestras. The Fund is made possible with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and with additional support from the Paul M Angell Family Foundation.

Learn more about The Catalyst Fund and watch the video to learn more about the experience of the New Jersey Youth Symphony.


We moved to serve members better

We moved to serve members better

To strengthen our ability to provide services to members, the League of American Orchestras moved to a contemporary office space that includes new videoconferencing and digital learning capabilities, as well as a layout that facilitates increased staff collaboration. With rents steadily increasing at the League’s former location in the Columbus Circle neighborhood, the move will also reduce occupancy costs by about $250,000 annually. Our new address is League of American Orchestras, 520 8th Avenue, Suite 2005, New York, NY 10018. 

Just steps away from the major transportation hub Penn Station, this new location is also home to many notable arts organizations including Theatre Communications Group, the National Guild for Community Arts Education, and Theater Development Fund.

The establishment of a new national headquarters is the cornerstone of a major $2 million investment in member service including a new website, digital learning capacity, and an information technology ecosystem. A major fundraising campaign is underway with $1.4 million committed to date. The campaign was launched with a lead gift of $400,000 from League Emeritus Director Bruce Clinton of The Clinton Family Fund.

Please note that the League’s phone number, 212 262 5161, and email addresses remain the same, including member@americanorchestras.org.


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