A Letter from the League President and CEO to Members Regarding the COVID-19 Crisis, 4/15/20

Dear Colleague,

As we enter the third month of the global pandemic and consider the uncertainty and tough road ahead, I'm reminded of a lesson made popular by business guru Jim Collins: the Stockdale Paradox. Admiral James Stockdale was a Navy pilot captured in the Vietnam War and tortured over a period of six years. He survived, and upon returning home wrote about his experience in captivity and reflected on the prisoners who lived, and those who died. Stockdale observed that the ones who survived we're the ones who could hold two completely opposite ideas at the same time: the recognition that their situation was brutal and unrelenting; and the unwavering conviction that they would still prevail.
Living with this paradox seems right to me. My own conviction that we will get through this is not just a sheer act of will. It is buttressed by seeing the enduring values in our field come in to play: the irrepressible desire of musicians to share their gifts; demonstrating another paradox: playing together while being apart; the strengthening bonds of colleagues as they eagerly and frequently connect to exchange information, learn together and support one another; and the spirit of shared sacrifice and pursuit of equitable solutions.
All of us at the League are inspired by all of you. Our work now is guided by three imperatives:
  • Help orchestras address immediate hardship with real time tactical support
  • Unite our community and leverage its collective strength
  • Hold fast to our vision for vibrant and civically engaged music making and organizations.
Below I am happy to share some of our recent work that realizes these principles.
  • Advocacy: The League remains at the forefront of advocacy on Capitol Hill for federal relief for orchestras and musicians as well as other issues of importance to orchestras. We are constantly updating our federal assistance page page to help you access the latest information on available forms of federal relief more easily, and you can speak up to ask Congress to support further essential aid through our talking points and action center.
  • Webinars on federal relief: Two free League webinars are now available on demand to guide viewers through specific questions about how various forms of federal relief apply to orchestras and their workforces. They feature expert attorneys and are moderated by the League’s Heather Noonan, VP for Advocacy. Register here for Part 1 and register here for Part 2. (If you already registered for these webinars, your link to them was sent to you via email. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  for any questions.)
  • Individualized legal assistance on federal relief: The League is also offering member orchestras individualized technical assistance on the COVID-19 federal relief opportunities from qualified legal experts from the Pryor Cashman law firm. This is available for a deeply discounted rate that is subsidized by the League. Learn more and register here for this assistance.
  • Executive 1:1 Consultations: To complement peer group calls among our members, the League has assembled a group of experienced leaders from a variety of types and sizes of orchestras to be available to executive directors of member orchestras for free 1-to-1 consultations. These leaders, who have volunteered to help and have worked through crises before, are eager to support others in any aspect of leading an orchestra through the challenges of the pandemic. Member EDs will find details in a message from Jesse Rosen, President and CEO of the League, in their League360 discussion group.
  • National Conference: We canceled our in-person event and transformed it into an extended online event that is free for all members. Global Stages | Local Stories will take place in May and June. The League will provide an array of online resources, webinars, and virtual gatherings designed to deliver the information orchestras need to navigate the global pandemic and its aftermath; to continue advancing the imperatives of equity, relevance, innovation, and creativity; and to unite and inspire the orchestra community.
  • Fundraising webinars: The League organized a free webinar in two parts to help orchestras raise contributed support amid the current crisis. The first, Fundraising in This Time of Crisis, took place today (a recording will be available soon) and the next, Maintaining Donor Relationships, takes place on April 22.
  • Symphony Spot website: We have been thrilled and impressed by the creative ways that our members have been continuing to provide music online despite social distancing. The League of American Orchestras has created a new website to spotlight these online offerings at www.SymphonySpot.org. You’ll find content—web streams, rich archival recordings, and educational resources—from more than 100 orchestras, venues, and soloists who are members and friends of the League. And the site grows daily. If you are affiliated with a League member orchestra and your orchestra is not yet listed, please fill out the form here to be added to the directory. The site, which also links to members’ donation pages and social media channels, will be promoted through Google ads, social media, and national media outreach.
Thank you for your time and attention. Thank you for everything you are doing to advance the orchestral experience in these times.
Jesse Rosen
President and CEO, League of American Orchestras