I'm taking the next few days off. You've Cott Mail will return early next week. -TC
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Small NYC opera companies band together in new alliance
WQXR Radio's Operavore blog, 4/13/13
A new organization designed to serve New York City's small, grassroots opera companies launches this week. The New York Opera Alliance wants to help independent companies and producers share marketing, fundraising, costumes and other production resources. 19 companies have signed up so far, from veteran groups like the Bronx Opera Company to newcomers such as On Site Opera. The idea for the New York Opera Alliance began with Peter Szep, a conductor, and Gina Crusco, artistic director of Underworld Productions Opera Ensemble. They took it to Cori Ellison, who is on the faculty of the American Lyric Theater. Ellison said one of the group's first steps was to create a website where the companies can share their schedules: "There are so many different companies doing so many very interesting, different kinds of things, but very often their schedules were colliding. It wasn't possible to see all the things you wanted to see." Currently, small opera troupes end up cannibalizing each others' audiences, and don't always emphasize their own distinctive qualities to opera fans, Ellison added. The New York Opera Alliance gets logistical support from Opera America, a national service organization. Members will pay annual dues. Future plans include an annual festival of small opera companies in New York. Organizers of the alliance estimate there are around 70 organizations that present opera in New York, often in small theaters, living rooms, parks, bars and restaurants.
Latino theaters in Texas form alliance & carry on tradition of social activism
Mercedes Olivera, The Dallas Morning News, 4/12/13
It's been nearly 50 years since Chicano theater emerged out of the barrios and farm fields of California to perform and advocate for social justice. Today, the street theater of working-class Mexican-Americans has evolved into a Latino theater movement that is diverse and nationwide. And although the issues have changed now to include feminist and gay themes, they remain serious and urgent. It's still a "theater for social change, a theater of hope." That was the message Jorge Huerta, founder of the Chicano theater program at U.C. San Diego, brought to a meeting this week held by the newly formed North Texas Alliance of Latino Theatres. "Now, with social media, we realize that we're all over the country, that there is a growing movement of groups dedicated to Latino/Latina theater," said Huerta, who played a key role in Teatro Nacional de Aztlán, a U.S.-Mexico organization of teatros that defined the early Chicano teatro movement. Huerta pointed out that as older mainstream theater groups look to staging Latino productions, "how do you make sure they are doing justice to our theater?" That means ensuring that tired old stereotypes are replaced with valid depictions of today's Latino community. There's no question Latino theater groups could help bridge this period in American theater. But they have other pressing issues to address. Local Latino theater groups need more space for performances, rehearsals, and workshops. Huerta concluded by advising the group of its greatest strength: "There's unity in numbers, and funders need to know that we exist."
In Florida community, arts orgs 'look beyond egos' to new cooperative alliance
People active in the Palm Coast arts scene are finding strength in numbers as they move to form an arts alliance, still unnamed, to showcase the talent and creativity in our area. "The goal of the more than 50 arts and culture organizations is to network, share information, and make an impact on the community," says Ann Delucia, president of the Flagler County Art League. The art league, Flagler Playhouse, and the Palm Coast Arts Foundation, among others, are working to establish the Palm Coast/Flagler area as a world-class forum for the performing, visual, literary and graphic arts. [Nearby models are] the Volusia County Cultural Alliance and the St. John's Cultural Alliance in St. Augustine. "Some of us want to create a similar organization here and some do not -- they just want a loose network to share arts and culture events," Delucia says. Efforts to bring people together can also earn the ire of those they're supposed to be helping: an artist's ego is a notoriously flammable thing, with the barest slight, real or imagined, blinding it to heaps of praise and profit. In something of a truce among the arts organizations, the Palm Coast-Flagler initiative has, at least for now, been taken over by the Tourist Development Council of the Chamber of Commerce. "No one wants to be told by another arts organization what to do," Delucia says. "People fear for their own turf."
New alliance could take Ohio music group to next level
Mary Ellyn Hutton, MusicInCincinnati.com, 4/3/13
Collaboration is the name of the game in the arts these days. There have been all-out mergers, as in Dayton with its symphony, opera and ballet, and cooperative endeavors, as with the just-announced partnership between the World Piano Competition, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. The May Festival Chorus (made up of 130 primarily volunteer singers) and VAE: Cincinnati's Vocal Arts Ensemble (a paid chorus of 24 professionals) are following suit. "We're calling it a 'strategic partnership,'" said Chorus executive director Steven Sunderman. "It's split into two parts. One part is administrative, the other artistic. Formally, it's administrative. The artistic is more of an understanding than a formal document. We look at it as almost two separate things right now." The need for "supplemental singers" is dictated by changing times. From 1989 to 2011, Chorus membership decreased by 20%. At the same time, the Chorus is being called upon to do more [performing]. Two years ago, [Sunderman said,] "we were working on our strategic plan with MBA students from CCM. They knew students who were working with VAE. They started talking to each other and came back and said to us 'You should talk to VAE because they're having some of the same issues you are.'" The start-up costs of the new partnership, which ultimately will be a cost-saver and revenue-enhancer for both parties, are being met thanks to grants from ArtsWave, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, The John C. Griswold Foundation and others.
Funding and other help is available for nonprofit collaborations
Geri Stengel, Forbes.com blog Forbeswoman, 4/9/13
Even if your nonprofit isn't in financial trouble, your board and management should be alert to opportunities that will improve efficiency and sustainability. It's best to do this before your nonprofit reaches crisis mode. Many nonprofits, especially those in the social services sector, face shrinking funding streams. Determining whether it's best for your nonprofit to combine corporate legal structures, provide joint programs or share back office infrastructure may require an outside consultant. An outside expert can help you think through the options and recommend solutions that have worked for other nonprofits. FMA provides consulting, outsourcing and training to nonprofits. Fortunately, foundations are increasingly recognizing the value of this exercise and are often willing to fund the process. [Examples include] The Chicago Community Trust, which has funded this type of work for 20 years, [and] SeaChange Capital Partners.