Saturday, July 11, 2015

Orchestras Need to Share Their Story, but It Better Be What We Want to Hear

On the Neoclassical blog, Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Holly Mulcahy gives us her two cents on why orchestras can't seem to get their communities excited about what they do:
Having a logo and concise website is a good start, but ultimately it’s a narrative, a story, that has the most power to capture attention and hearts. ... As orchestras try to share what they can about education, entertainment, and culture, the huge thing lacking is a story arc and tension to draw people in. 
For Mulcahy, it's all about finding a more compelling way to tell the story, which is true, but orchestras also have to remember that they're writing non-fiction. How many orchestras have adapted their mission and strategies in a way that will help make the yarn they spin compelling?

Orchestras still program music, pick their soloists and music directors, and cultivate donors under the tired, threadbare, unsubstantiated assumption that their music has some inherent high-culture value (which Drew McManus feels is a defensive pose, a "failure to communicate."). They better make sure they can show that they're engaging communities in meaningful ways. Otherwise, it'll be the same old story.