12. March 21, 2012

Association Working Group Conference Call
Wednesday, March 21, 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.

The drafting convention will be April 27-29 in Chicago. We have received an anonymous $10,000 donation to help defray travel costs. Money will be divided among applicants and will be distributed at the meeting. Stan asked organizations with larger budgets to allow the smaller ones to use the money.

ROLL CALL: Beth Babcock, Stanford Thompson, Margaret Martin, Dalouge Smith, Mark Churchill, Louise King Lanzilotti, Leni Boorstein,  Marie Montilla, Mary Wurtz, Mark Sarich, Ted Mazur, Bob Fiedler, Louise Ghandi

It’s warmer in Boston than Hawai‘i today. What kind of winter is this?

Beth said that there was a request by several members to have a reflection and look at a broader response to the cumulative decisions so far. Beth and Stan sent out a survey to allow input from more people. Forty-one people from all kinds of parties (consulting, staff, leaders of organizations, etc.) had responded by this morning. The level of satisfaction was at 2, which is pretty satisfied with the work so far. The satisfaction of the music groups had a 1.7 satisfaction (more satisfied). The answers were very rich and delineated some concerns.

None of the Abreu Fellows were able to respond this week, only because they are still in Venezuela, but they send their regards.

The responses received were very rich and full of thoughtful comments. A summary is posted at musicassociation.wordpress.com. The final report was done this morning so that it was as cumulative as possible.

First, the concerns –

1. Concern over inclusivity/exclusivity of the organization – There were comments on both sides. Some were concerned that the definition of core membership might keep some people out of the organization. There were more comments that it was too inclusive and that that might water down the impact of the organization.

Mark in St. Louis said that holding the definition tightly might keep the definition more clear.

Louise from CA has talked to people who were involved at the beginning of the Suzuki program and its discussion about a national organization. Many people were using the name in programs that were not good, and this led the Suzuki people to create an organization. She feels the inclusiveness can be stated within the levels of membership.

Eric Booth thought that one way to deal with this might be to have three levels of membership – 1. Core membership, 2.  Aspirational membership, 3. Friends. This is a concept that is supported by others throughout the calling process.

Mark Churchill supported the idea of defining the characteristics of different levels of membership clearly in order to be able to look at the effectiveness of programs. He affirmed Louise’s comments about the development of the Suzuki movement.

Dalouge commented that in his review of minutes from past minutes, this subject (inclusivity/exclusivity) keeps coming up. The majority are asking for higher standards for full membership as opposed to a wide-open membership. That will be important for the working group to return to. Beth said that she wouldn’t say it was a majority, just more.

Someone affirmed having the aspirational level.

Margaret said that time is a factor. As her organization has been going for a long time, there is a range of participation from 5 hours to many more. Would that keep her out of membership? In terms of evaluation, the group needs to develop a logic model that supports the values of the organization.

Beth wonders if anyone else has comments.

Mark Churchill said that all organizations he’s involved with have aspirational memberships. He’ll gather some data for next week. Beth reiterated that a theme of the answers was that this is a beginning and will need to be refined.

Mark from St. Louis said we need to look at the metrics we will use to measure our work, particularly core membership.

2. Strategic Focus on the Movement/the Programs/the Child Are we looking to be primarily national, primarily programmatic, primarily focused on the child?

Margaret suggested the book From Good To Great, by Jim Collins. In it there is a comment on the Stockdale paradox – which is to include all options as possible rather than to choose one.

Mark Churchill added that these categories are not mutually exclusive. We are supporting the individual movement by working on the national movement.

Dalouge decided to play devil’s advocate. He believes that the majority of the discussion so far has been on the individual organizations and the members at the expense of the broader picture. He feels that we are ignoring some critical factors. He’s not clear that we have the resources to provide the capacity needed for a national group. We are it. The bulk of the outcomes continue to be narrowly focused on program.

Dalouge also said that the Stockdale principle has a very well defined endpoint/destination, with numerable steps to reach the outcome while continuing to move forward. For example, an important question is what is the cumulative impact of the El Sistema movement. There are a number of wider realities that we are not giving ourselves permission to define for a wider impact.

Margaret said that that speaks to a vision statement agreed upon by all members. What are the outcomes? What does the terms mean?

Beth asked for broader input from others who haven’t yet commented. First she wanted to clarify the difference between establishing a vision for an existing organization and trying to develop the organization that will have an overarching vision. During formation, there is a very iterative process of development.

Dalouge commented that we have a group, even if not a non-profit organization. We have a clear dedication of the programmatic approach, but not the definition of outcomes and vision.

Leni agrees with Dalouge’s last statement and is also concerned.

Mark in St. Louis asked whether we’re seeking to create a union or a franchise (bottom up or top down).  Someone from YOSAL said that they created a vision, then a mission statement. Mark Churchill feels that we are on course and the committee working on vision and mission should be listening to this discussion.

Mark in St. Louis elaborated on his comment about union or franchise. He came in on the grass roots level and cobbled together an approach – that worked well for his group. To what degree do we want to create a loose framework for others?

Mark Churchill mentioned the concept of a trade organization that helps others understand the value of that group’s work. The word franchise is very dangerous, because this is a creative process. The term union could be seen as defensive – fighting for the rights of certain individuals or groups. The idea of a collective that decides on what serves the vision of the movement seems more correct to him.

3. Strategy – Timing, Thoughtfulness and Partnership with Existing Resources – some are concerned that we’re moving too quickly; others that we’re not going fast enough; others that we might be keeping some groups out; etc.

Bob in Chicago said we should give ourselves a pat on the back. We’ve been struggling to give lots of people input and that the process is continuing apace. He thinks we should feel good about it.

Stan added that we have all built our programs by putting mechanisms in place while looking to a larger vision. It’s unknown where the programs will be in four years, but we all keep moving forward. It won’t be a perfect science, but the process will allow us to grow as a body and to have things grow where it really counts – on the local level, making programs stronger.

Bob in Chicago suspects that people who have complaints will probably be those who haven’t been as participatory. We won’t please everybody.

Louise Lanzilotti commented that there is much work to be done in Chicago. Nothing is set in stone yet. We will need to look at all of these issues during the process there. Boxing gloves were mentioned.

4. Need for input from Other Leaders in the Field

Leni is unsure about the representation on the calls and surveys. Who is actually involved – she doesn’t have a sense. Beth said that we had 41 responses this week – 27 from existing programs (core) plus 4 other emerging programs. 75% over time have been programs, the rest from other interested parties.

When asked about Dudamel’s response to an association, Leni said she couldn’t speak for Dudamel (or Abreu). She remarked that  the LA Phil took on roles to advance the movement (convening; the Take A Stand partnership with Bard/Longy) recognizing that there were also needs in the field beyond their capacity to serve.  Dudamel is naturally a symbol for the El Sistema movement but it could not be anticipated that he’d take an active role in an association. There is certainly support for the movement in America by the people in Venezuela. The fact that Abreu took his name off the Fellows Program may or may not have significance to us.

Stan said that there is dialogue ongoing with those in Venezuela – they are following the conversation through survey results and minutes, etc.

5. Board Composition – There was concern about just having core members on the Board. People commented that as long as core members controlled the Board, it might be open to others, either as voting or non-voting members. This has been an ongoing conversation.

We will look at expertise needed on the Board over the next week.

6. Quality/Hours of Programming – these continue to be of concern. More people are concerned that the hours have been set too low than too high. How to define programming quality will continue to come up and may need a subcommittee prior to the meeting in Chicago. It will be impossible to get complete unanimity on this and we will have to decided how to come to a final decision.

Louise from CA said she didn’t remember about number of children served as a requirement. We have not, nor have we talked about professional development, music to be studied and several other issues.

7.  Wording and Definitions

As stated in the survey summary, we need to further define and clarify the meanings to us of several terms, including program quality, music quality, intensive, El Sistema values, inspired by El Sistema.

8. Name – El Sistema USA We’ve discussed the concerns about this, and they remain. Also, some mentioned that the leadership in Venezuela might have concern about this name.

Dalouge asked whether there was any articulation about the baggage of the name. Beth said that someone said that if you Google ESUSUA, there are articles about the separation of it from NEC and that might hurt us. Dalouge said that we definitely need to address that concern, whether to acknowledge it and go forward anyway or to find a different name.

Mark Churchill said that the values, etc. on the ESUSA website were put up by the first Fellows and affirmed by later ones.

9. Underprivileged and At Risk – Descriptions of Youth in Need People seemed to be most comfortable with the phrases “youth with access barriers” and “youth with the fewest resources and greatest need”. Caution was urged.

10. Absent Wording the words “rigorous” and “joy” were suggested.

Ted in Pasadena suggested the words “under resourced.” Margaret reminded us to use the word inspirational.

11. Questions – Most of these were raised in the concerns area.

Satisfaction – Many comments of thanks were made.

Final Words Mary from Salinas asked when we will be defining terms. Beth isn’t sure when and how, but feels we might need some sub-groups. Mary asked about the inclusion of “social change”. Beth will add it.

Louise from CA said that this points back to Dalouge’s comments, and that clarification of our meaning of social change is central to the development of the group. Defining the bigger issues is important. Dalouge affirmed that he is concerned with that level of thinking. He brought up the process in Good To Great again, as a good one for developing vision and the power to crystallize a reference point on the horizon and move forward effectively.

Beth appreciated everyone’s input and asked us all to give our names as usual.


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