11. March 14, 2012

Association Working Group Conference Call
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Remember to follow all results at musicassociation.wordpress.com. The minutes are posted pretty quickly after each call – please post any corrections that you might have.

ROLL CALL: Beth Babcock, Louise King Lanzilotti, Mark Sarich, Margaret Martin, Dalouge Smith, Mark Churchill, Eric Booth, Leni Boorstein, Louise Ghandi, Marie Montilla, Kassie Lord (ORCHkids), Steve Liu, Katie Wyatt (There may have been more, but Louise L. didn’t hear any other names.)

Beth opened the meeting at 11:35 EST stating that Stan was not on the call, but she hoped he would be joining later. She stated that the main purpose of the call was to discuss the work of the Mission and Vision Subcommittee, thanked them, and then asked for other business before the main agenda.

Dalouge stated that he had researched locational decisions of other music associations and the primary driver with them (League of Am Orchestras, Opera America, and Association of American Art Museums) had been to locate based on the nature of their work. So, Leagues was in NY and DC, Opera America in NY, and AAAM in DC.

Beth said that in her experience the drivers were the same. If they were national advocacy organizations, they located in DC, if national service organizations, they might locate in a geographically accessible area to members, and if Fundraising organizations, they might locate near to major corporate sponsors, etc…

Margaret M. then reviewed the mission and vision statements written by the group (Nan Westervelt, Margaret Martin, Mark Sarich). Thank you all for this work.

DRAFT Mission Statement:
El Sistema USA promotes the positive development of underprivileged young people through the study, practice and ensemble performance of music. We foster the collaboration and success of member organizations by providing research and information resources, professional development and networking opportunities, advocacy, funding, and high profile leadership.

DRAFT Vision Statement:
We believe we can transform underprivileged families and communities by empowering youth towards self determination, self actualization and mutual acceptance through the study, practice and ensemble performance of music.

Mark Churchill thought this was a very good first iteration and questioned the words “underprivileged”. Would economically underprivileged be better?

Margaret said that the group looked at many other terms but thought underprivileged captured best the idea of music as a privilege. Maybe children with the “greatest need and fewest resources” would be better.

Katie Wyatt asked whether it is right to call El Sistema USA an organization serving children. Isn’t it really an organization focusing on the needs of the members? There was much discussion about this question, and many in group felt that “serving children through member organizations” was the way to resolve the difference.

Margaret Msaid hat she liked the Easter Seals mission which talks about eliminating birth defects through member organizations. There was much support for this idea.

Dalouge then said that he’s not convinced that current programs and their visions are in alignment through this new Association. He is not sure whether what is being developed through the group adequately highlights the mosaic of diversity in the programs, and he is at the same time not finding cohesion of clarity and purpose in the work.

Mark Sarich said that in his experience as a professional in this area, you cannot legislate diversity from the top down in structuring a national organization. Diversity comes from the bottom up, and with too much diversity the national association can lose its identity.

Margaret emphasized that diversity of programs allows for opportunities to leverage learning from different programs strengths.

Dalouge said that the original discussions of this group had broadly emphasized music for social change, but now he seemed to see the group evolving into an El Sistema focused organization.

Kathy from Orch Kids- Said that the intention in El Sistema moving out of Venezuela and into the world was to adapt the El Sistema values to the new environments.

Louise, from CA- said that the cohesion in Venezuela comes from the vision of Maestro Abreu and that this unifying philosophical outlook was powerful.

Dalouge said that there was great shared curriculum and program design replicated throughout all of El Sistema in Venezuela. Margaret M. said that this is true, but an intern from Venezuela in her program spoke at great length about the very significant differences in resources and approach between programs in Venezuela on the ground. She asked whether there were any clearly articulated list of core criteria produced by Venezuela to define El Sistema values and said if there were, the mission group would use it.

Mark Churchill said that there had been several attempts to define such a list and that the Venezuela wanted such a list as well. The closest thing that had been vetted by US practitioners and fellows and also reviewed by the Venezuela leadership were the seven values listed on the ES USA website. He also stated that Jonathan Govias had made a shorter list that was very good and had appeared in Strad. Magazine.

Mark S. openly questioned whether a mission statement could/should include all these elements.

Eric Booth said that right now the primary thing the mission statement had that distinguished it from other music association mission statements was the use of the word ensemble. Margaret said that focusing on underprivileged children was also a differentiator.

Leni said that perhaps using “children with greatest need and fewest resources” would be better and also that it was very important for the group to think about how it could best incorporate the core elements of El Sistema and still move forward and aspire to do more.

Louise Lanzilotti entered in the second hour because Hawaii didn’t change time with the rest of the country! Oops. She took over the notetaking from Beth, who had been taking minutes and leading the meeting up to this point!

Dalouge Smith commented that there was a national conversation about El Sistema work about a year ago. A statement came out that was an articulation of the intention to be collaborative and additive to other music education work. He feels that this document would be helpful to look at.

Eric Booth added that the paper also addressed the issue that school music programs feel that they do everything that this mission statement offered states. They are addressing the neediest students and feel they are not being acknowledged in this work. We need to consider what El Sistema inspired programs offer that is different from school music programs.

Mark Churchill said that he will distribute the final draft of this paper. We don’t want to challenge the current programs but to offer something that adds to these programs and to the entire music system in the US. We need to capture that somehow in the mission statement. It’s important not to position this work as a challenge to the existing work.

Margaret said that we could add some language that acknowledges that work. The mission statement group will do some more work on the draft mission statement.

Beth suggested that a way to get further input is to have the group take another crack at the mission statement and put it out for comment by the larger group before the next conference call. Then we can get to the meeting in April with something that we can finalize.

Dalouge said that this is the conversation needed for the success of the organization. It will need to continue and be at the core of the Chicago meeting. The vision for our work has got to be transformative and our work has to be in the service of this vision.

There will be another survey next week and much to talk about.

Dalouge is wondering how effectively we can have the conversations on mission and vision without solidifying our identity more. Does the organization have a larger mandate than just serving its members? How open will Board membership be? Etc.

Beth said that this is not a linear process. We have made some decisions that will be revisited. We do not want to be trapped by our preliminary discussions and decisions. The next survey will look at primacy of mission through Board structure. We as a group are building the gestalt of the priorities of our organization together. The mission and vision are revealed through the process that we are going through. Two steps forward, one step back.

Dalouge asked when we deal with the issues that need attention. Beth pointed us all to the paper of cumulative decisions, which includes red highlighted points. Of course everything will be reviewed in Chicago in April. It will be up to the group to decide when everything gels.

Dalouge suggested having everyone go back and reflect on the cumulative decisions. Louise Ghandi agreed, as did others. Eric suggested that a reflection on these decisions may give everyone a chance to revisit everything done so far. Beth will work on doing that. If Eric and others would like to solicit thorough input, that would be great. Eric and Dalouge will add personal missives to people when the next survey is ready.

Louise Ghandi said that the voting by one person per organization is good, but perhaps comments could be allowed by more people from organizations. Beth may send out two missives – one just for comment and one survey.

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