Sunday, September 25, 2016

Taking a Break

I may return to posting, but, for now, I'll be packing it in. It's been harder than I thought to keep blogging up since moving to Los Angeles and taking on a new job at the Colburn School.

If you want to get in touch, or just want to keep up with me, follow me on Twitter @berrymark, or find me on Facebook.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

HEAR Initiative Makes the Philadelphia Orchestra Look Like a Do-Gooding Think Tank, and That's Awesome

More and more, orchestras in the United States are investing in non-traditional, community-based programs that are not only helping to re-establish themselves as part of the civic fabric but are also broadening the notion of what constitutes an orchestra musician.

Earlier this month, the Philadelphia Orchestra became the latest and most prominent American orchestra to take this step when it announced its HEAR initiative. It's cutesy acronym that stands for Health, Education, Access, Research, but is looks like the work behind it is anything but frivolous.

An example of a HEAR project is the orchestra's partnership with the Temple University Arts and Quality of Life Research Center and the Broad Street Ministry. After receiving music therapy training, orchestra musicians perform together with ministry guests, who include victims of homelessness and abuse. Temple University researchers then observe these performances to determine, as the ministry website puts it, "the impact that this creative process will have on the well-being of our guests over time." (Musicians participated in one of these sessions in early March.)

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that, in addition to strengthening its mentoring relationship with the All City Orchestra, the orchestra will partner with Martin Ihrig of the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education to map the music education ecosystem in an attempt to provide data to policy makers and administrators as they attempt to make the most of their budgets and programs.

The Philadelphia Orchestra--not that long ago bankrupt--and its CEO, Allison Vulgamore, could be taking a big risk in embracing such programs. Will new donors support these activities? Will big donors who like fancy concerts in big halls be turned off? Will the musicians lose patience with programs that are outside their traditional role? These are surely questions, Vulgamore, staff, board and musicians are all pondering.

But the reward here could be great: aside from doing good, the orchestra can position itself as a valuable, thought leading institution in Philadelphia that drives cultural policy decisions. It can also create the model for what other top-tier orchestras in big cities (or not-top-tier orchestras in not-so-big cities) can do to make themselves relevant.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hartford Symphony Has Its Own Executive Director Now

Things have been rough at the Hartford Symphony for a while, and yesterday it took a step toward righting itself by promoting its artistic programming director, Stephen Collins, to CEO.

Until yesterday, the Hartford Symphony was overseen by David Fay, the CEO of Bushnell Performing Arts Center, where the orchestra performed. This dual role left Fay open to accusations of conflict of interest, and he also split administrative staff between the two non-profit organizations.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Here's a Reason to Hate the Met

Much more disgraceful than The Met's new logo is that the museum lies to the public. If you've ever gone, you'll know that The Met goes to every length to not only obscure that it's free to visit, but actively tries to get you to pay a "recommended" admission fee.

In a passive-aggressive move designed only to end a lawsuit for its fraudulence, The Met will now call it a "suggested" fee to enter on its signage. Whether its employees will be more forthcoming with the attendance policy is yet to be seen.

This kind of dishonesty is much more hurtful to your brand than any logo-design misfire.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Everyone Hates The Met's New Logo, But They'll Still Go, Right?

It started with Justin Davidson's Vulture review of The Metropolitan Museum's new logo, who called The Met's new logo a "graphic misfire" that looks "like a red double-decker bus that has stopped short, shoving the passengers into each other’s backs."

Adweek panned it as a "letter-killing, article-elevating, butt-filled logo" and responded with one word upon viewing Wolff Olins's concept samples. Brand New has weighed in, as has Art Net News.

Everyone loves to hate logos, which makes sense. I hate logos too: we spend way too much time arguing over marks, defending them, decoding their meaning. I'd rather talk about how an organization treats us, what it says to us, how it make our lives better.