Tessitura's Innovator Series

Tessitura’s Innovator Series is an ongoing program of brief and inspiring presentations by industry innovators, each focused on a single theme to advance insight and innovation in the business of arts and culture. Presented periodically at no cost to a live webinar audience of Tessitura Network Members and others engaged in or studying the arts and cultural sector, Innovator Series presentations are subsequently released through the Tessitura Network YouTube™ channel to expand and extend the accessibility of these powerfully innovative ideas globally.

Sarah McLainSarah Jane SemradSarah McLain, Business Analyst
Sarah Jane Semrad, Membership Director Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Data-driven Decisions for Membership Restructuring
When the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas embarked upon a project to overhaul its membership benefits, the team knew that with over 30,000 household members, even a small change could mean big consequences. With this in mind, the Perot turned to both quantitative and qualitative data to inspire and support the creative restructuring of their membership program. Sarah Jane and Sarah will provide a before and after comparison of the Perot’s membership program, and then share how they used an examination of benefits usage, benchmarking, survey data, market research and more to inform their work.

Mary Beth SmithMary Beth Smith, Director of Marketing and Communications
San Francisco Ballet
Aligning Our Future: Strategy, Execution, Efficiency
San Francisco Ballet, the nation’s oldest professional ballet company, has long been celebrated for its commitment to innovation through a focus on new works and supporting emerging choreographers. Building on this tradition, SF Ballet has undertaken a unique approach to its business practices. Strategic Alignment ensures the organization is aligned in its vision for the future, implementing big, bold, game-changing strategy, developing a laser focus on execution, and practicing lean principals as part of an effort to seed innovation and set the stage for organizational transformation. The result? A company that is as innovative, flexible, and strong behind the scenes as it is onstage.

Rise WalterRisë Walter, Director of Marketing
San Diego Opera
Reborn: The Fight to Save San Diego Opera

What happens when your leadership and board decide that your opera company is no longer viable and vote to close it down?  You rise up, harness your resources, get creative, say “hell no!” and fight back. San Diego Opera faced exactly those circumstances in 2014. Uniting our forces - staff, chorus, labor unions, and other stakeholders – the Opera staff rose up and formed the White Knight Committee to engage the local, national and international community and take the company back.  This is the story of saving San Diego Opera.

Presenter Bios and Links to More Information


Sarah McLain
As the Business Analyst for the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Sarah is responsible for data analysis and museum metrics, as well as reporting and benchmarking. She examines and queries data, programs data reports and utilizes technologies to improve efficiency and clarity in reporting. She has over 15 years of experience in data analysis and reporting for non-profits and local government. Sarah has a Master's Degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of Arlington and a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Southern Methodist University. Prior to working at the Perot Museum, Sarah worked in data analysis and applications development for the American Institute of CPAs and in economic development for the City of Lewisville, Texas. 

Sarah Jane Semrad
As the Membership Director for the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Sarah Jane is responsible for the Museum’s membership program, its execution and its fulfillment. She has more than 15 years in entrepreneurial endeavors and non-profit leadership experience. Sarah Jane holds a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Dallas and a Masters of Liberal Studies from Southern Methodist University. Prior to working at the Perot Museum, Sarah Jane worked at local NPR affiliate KERA and Dallas Social Venture Partners.

Sarah on LinkedIn
Sarah Jane on LinkedIn
Perot Museum of Nature and Science website 

Mary Beth Smith
Mary Beth is Director of Marketing and Communications for San Francisco Ballet and has more than twenty years of experience in brand strategy, marketing and communications, digital engagement, and customer service for large and mid-sized cultural organizations. Most recently, she served as Acting Director of Marketing for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Prior to that, she spent eight years as Director of Marketing and Communications for Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and held senior marketing positions at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, California, and San Francisco's flagship American Conservatory Theater. Mary Beth holds an M.B.A. from University of San Francisco and a B.A. from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

San Francisco Ballet website 

Risë Walter
Risë has spent her adult working life in the arts. After graduating from college and acting school, she traversed rough terrain trying to pursue her love of acting while making her living working part time in ticket offices. While working as a temp for San Francisco Symphony she changed paths and started a family. From that point on she focused on building a career in arts administration. Risë spent a two plus decades at San Francisco Symphony moving up through the ranks from phone-chick to Manager and wearing many other hats as needed. Risë was responsible for bringing the then-new CRM called Tessitura to the Symphony. San Francisco Symphony was the third site to adopt this new platform and as a result of her leadership, Risë was then able to begin a side career consulting with many other arts organizations on their adoption of the same software. It was during this time that Risë began working with San Diego Opera. She helped the Opera with their installation of Tessitura and then a few years later temporarily filled the Patron Services Director position while a search was being done. Then in 2008 Risë was approached to take on the challenge of Director of Marketing for San Diego Opera. She jumped at the chance, left her Bay Area home of 34 years and came south.  It’s been a wild ride but a ride she is now glad to have taken!

San Diego Opera website

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Alan Valentine, Executive Director, Nashville Symphony

"Managing our growth would not have been possible without Tessitura Software."

Gary Keehner, Asolo Repertory Theatre

“The thing that drove us to Tessitura to begin with is the integration of the entire organization.”

Amy Lampi, Alley Theatre

"You can treat the person as an entire patron, because that's how the patrons view our organization… And I feel like Tessitura encourages that kind of collaboration inter-departmentally."

Jennifer Buzzell, Signature Theatre

"Tessitura does a lot to improve our departmental communication. I think that it gives us a common vocabulary, and it gives us insight into the overall business as opposed to our individual silos."

Recently Added Licensees

English National Ballet (UK)
Somerset House (UK)
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Theatre Under the Stars (Houston)
California Musical Theatre
Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto
Minnesota Opera
Gettysburg Foundation
Institute for Contemporary Art, VCU
Zoological Society of Milwaukee
New England Historic Geneological Society
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
Georgia Aquarium
American Film Institute
Dallas Zoo & Children's Aquarium at Fair Park
ICA Boston
The Carson Center
2econd Stage Theatre
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Canadian Museum of Nature
Olney Theatre Center
Ogunquit Playhouse
The Florida Orchestra
Calgary Zoo
Handel and Haydn Society
Mystic Aquarium
Adventure Theatre
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (UK)
London Sinfonietta (UK)
Alberta Ballet (CA)
Minnesota Orchestra
Toronto Consort (CA)
Hawaii Opera Theatre
Stages Theatre Company
Science Museum Group (UK)
Museum of the Bible
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra & Chamber Choir (Canada)
Almeida Theatre (UK)
Des Moines Performing Arts
Friends of the National Zoo
Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center
California Science Center
Ford's Theatre
Virginia Arts Festival
El Dorado Festival & Events
Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum
Lawrence Family JCC
Sydney Writers' Festival (Australia)
Madison Opera
Children's Theater of Madison
Jacob Burns Film Center
Arizona Opera
Australian National Academy of Music (Australia)
Frost Science
Belvoir Theatre (Australia)
Black Country Living Museum (UK)
Museum of Chinese in America
Austin Opera
Hartford Stage
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Minnesota Historical Society