Posted on 13 June 2012.
With the summer fast approaching, we thought it was a good time to let you know about the various activities that we’re working on at OC, to better fulfill our mission as the “united voice of Canadian orchestras”.
First of all, we’re back into strategic planning mode. Last February, the OC board of directors held a special 2-day meeting in Toronto, during which we discussed many options for strengthening and streamlining OC during a time of significant change for our members, and potential instability in our own funding sources. From that discussion, Executive Director Katherine Carleton has drafted a strategy road map, sharpening OC’s focus on advocacy, network development, and support for innovation. The road map was shared with the membership at OC’s annual general meeting in Montreal last month. She will now work with a committee drawn from OC’s board to refine the road map, develop a 3-year action plan, and evolve some strategies to measure our progress. It’s our hope that the plan will be ready to take to the OC board for approval in October.
Speaking about advocacy…
You hear a certain amount about advocacy from us – but how does it actually translate into action? At the May meeting in Montreal, Sophie Galaise (OC’s advocacy committee chair), and Katherine Carleton spelled out our plan for 2012-13. The plan is an ambitious one, and commits OC and its members to:
• Ongoing involvement with the Canadian Arts Coalition, including a voice in identifying priorities and supporting arguments, involvement in drafting the pre-budget brief, organizing Arts Day on Parliament Hill in October, and responding to Budget 2013;
• Continued vigilance on policy and funding issues affecting orchestras, and action as necessary;
• Customizing the materials and messages developed for Arts Day (and enlisting OC board members who have taken part in Arts Day to serve as regional mentors), and encouraging members of Orchestras Canada to set up and take part in meetings with MPs in their home ridings during the Remembrance Day break, November 10-18, 2012;
• Organizing a late winter/early spring summit in Ottawa for interested CEOs and board chairs to meet with key ministers, MPs, and policy advisors as well as staff at Canada Council and the Department of Canadian Heritage;
• Registering Katherine Carleton as a federal lobbyist;
• Doing the initial work to develop a “public value” message for Canadian orchestras that clearly articulates orchestras’ social, cultural, educational, and artistic contributions, and can be customized and used in a range of settings.
As for network development…
Time and again, we hear from members that they value the opportunities that OC creates to stimulate connections between peers in the Canadian orchestra industry – and that they would like us to do even more. Members may not be as aware that OC itself benefits from its participation in a number of networks made up of other Canadian arts service organizations and industry associations, as well as international peers. We know from experience: the opportunities for learning and collaboration are unparalleled.
In 2012-13, with the help of the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), a one-year investment from OC’s own strategic reserve fund, and continued support from the George Cedric Metcalf Foundation, OC will strengthen our network development work. Here’s what we have underway:
With help from OTF, we have engaged the Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA) to work with us to build the resources section of our website, to ensure that on-line resources (whether linked from other websites, member-generated, or OC-developed) are pertinent to your needs, easy to find, and current. While the OTF funding pertains specifically to the significant population of smaller budget orchestras in Ontario, we are confident that the resources we ultimately produce will be of value to all. To get the work done, CAPACOA has appointed Fréderic Julien as project manager – and we’re thrilled to be working with him, given the brilliance of his work on CAPACOA’s Presenters Toolkit and CAPACOA’s ongoing study on the value of presenting.
With help from OTF and OC’s strategic fund, we have engaged Toronto-based arts consultant Debra J. Chandler to serve in a brand new role at OC: community organizer. In this role, Debra will balance her time between the small budget orchestra group in Ontario and non-CEO staff of Canadian orchestras – and will focus on creating better internal links within the two groups through teleconferences, webinars, and animation of list servs, and (for the Ontario orchestras) organizing regional meetings and workshops, along with a new group for music directors of smaller budget orchestras.
With help from the George Cedric Metcalf Foundation, OC will be continuing its efforts as the home of the ASO Learning Network, an initiative designed to bring the leaders of Toronto-area arts service organizations (whether local, provincial or national in mandate) together to discuss, learn, and collaborate. As we have discovered, one of the greatest barriers to collaboration is trust – and we can already see the impact of the first year of this work in our own capacity to serve our members better by leveraging the wisdom, network, and resources of our colleagues in the ASO Learning Network.
Support to innovation
We believe that Canadian orchestras are experienced innovators, and that the scale and focus of their innovative work range from minor process improvements to significantly new ways of doing things. To date, however, OC has done little to ensure that an innovation at one Canadian orchestra is identified and communicated in ways that will benefit other Canadian orchestras – either encouraging its adoption or simply stimulating new thinking. With this new area of focus, we’ll start to:
• Model innovation in our own work. How OC is staffed, structured, funded and governed may need to change – and we’ll welcome that, if it helps us do a better job;
• Ensure that you’ve got access to research that will inform performance improvement and innovation in all aspects of your work
• Encourage innovation, best practice identification, and meaningful evaluation
We’re starting to plan the national meetings in 2013;
In preparation for a meeting with the Advocacy Committee, Katherine is taking a close look at the Canada Council’s review of operating funding programs, with specific focus on the potential timelines, consultation protocols and eventual impact on Canadian orchestras;
Consultant C. Stephen Smith, with the support of the Ontario Arts Investment Fund, and guidance from a national steering committee, is continuing OC’s study of the situation and needs of Canadian youth orchestras;
Our summer student, Mike Romaniak, is setting to work editing and posting presentations from the national meetings in 2012. Mike’s work is made possible through the generosity of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture through the Summer Experience Program;
In partnership with The Writers Union of Canada, we’ll also welcome Laura Thorne for a six week summer placement, thanks to the Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation. Laura will be doing some of the necessary background work in preparation for a pre-budget brief to the federal Standing Committee on Finance;
We’re packing up and moving to a new location by the end of July. You’ll hear more about this, shortly;
Katherine is working out details of a partnership with CCI-Ontario Presenting Network that has the potential to put powerful new marketing and audience insights into the hands of marketing staff of small and mid-budget Ontario voting member orchestras, with the help of the Ontario Arts Investment Fund;
The Betty Webster Awards Committee will meet by phone later this week to review the nominations for the 2012 award. It’s a great group of jurors, assembled in honour of a great group of nominees;
A small team of colleagues (including Jeff Alexander of the Vancouver Symphony, Scott Wilson of the Okanagan Symphony, Mike Forrester from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Shannon Whidden of the National Arts Centre Orchestra) is working with Katherine to negotiate a new Tariff 4.B.2 with SOCAN;
We’re looking at the new Ontario Not for Profit Corporations Act, as well as pending changes at the Canada Revenue Agency, and consulting legal counsel on necessary changes to our bylaws and legal structure;
We’re orienting four new board members, and also planning the work of OC’s committees and task forces for the coming year.
In short: we’re busy! If you have any questions or comments about any of the above, we’d love to hear from you.