In a few paragraphs, I will have a confession to make.
But first, some back story:
At the Tessitura Learning & Community Conference (TLCC2019) this past July, I was proud to participate in a general session talk with my colleagues Chuck Reif, SVP Technology, and Kristin Darrow, SVP Product. We called our talk “Propel,” and in it, we reflected on the 18-year history of the Tessitura Network and gave some thoughts about our next stage as a company.
From left to right, Andrew, Chuck, and Kristin presenting at TLCC2019
As we said in the talk, the steady rise of the Tessitura Network has been an incredible ride so far. From two Tessitura team members to 239; from seven organizations to 665; from one country to 10. Even TLCC itself has gone from 32 attendees in 2001 to 1,950 this year in Chicago.
The numbers are powerful, but they only tell part of the story.
The growth of our non-profit has been the result of major initiatives in our technology, methodologies and community. In the past decade alone, we have rearchitected our technology to stay best-in-class; added programs and services like the Tessitura Center for Professional Development and the Innovator Series; and built a community that now has 60 established Tessitura User Groups around the world.
We have undeniably become a leading force in the business of arts and culture. Our co-founders, Jack Rubin and Chuck Reif, have a lot to be proud of.
A Moment of Reflection
So here is my confession. I knew we had grown a lot. I knew we had done some amazing things for arts and culture. I knew we had some nifty tech, smart services and robust community. But it wasn’t until I started preparing to give that talk at TLCC2019 that the full sweep of what this community has accomplished truly sank in.
I suppose we all miss the forest for the trees sometimes. Honestly, the day-to-day velocity of Tessitura has kept me busy and focused for years. It had been a while since I looked out from the trees and saw this massive, lush Tessitura forest spreading out in front of me. Let’s have a look at Tessitura today:
We have global scale and dedicated arts and culture focus. We have world-class technology and methodology. We are a member-owned non-profit with a mission to do good in the world. We are not beholden to outside investors: we are beholden only to each other. We estimate about 20,000 arts and culture professionals around the world consider themselves part of the Tessitura community. And we all want the same thing: to bring meaningful arts and culture to as many people as possible. And then I realized something else:
We are the largest organized community devoted to the business of arts and culture on the planet.
When did that happen?
More importantly, what do we do with this incredible potential?
Most importantly, what is our obligation to the world at this moment?
Nearly 2,000 cultural professionals attended TLCC2019
We’ve had many goals in our years as an organization. Goals for community, goals for technology, goals for service. And we will continue to. But if we are really focused on that huge Tessitura forest, I think we are at a moment in our history that we should aim at a much bigger goal:
That we work toward a day when every human in every community we serve has arts and culture as a meaningful part of their life.
I believe that is our obligation to the world at this moment. We all want to serve more people with arts and culture. We all want to broaden our reach and touch more lives. We all want to improve the world. If you take our 665 individual missions and weave them all together, wouldn’t it look something like that goal?
It’s a big goal. How would we accomplish it? To begin with, we would have a lot to talk about, debate, change and refine. But at the highest level, here’s how I think we’d do it:
- Every one of our organizations would need to continue to grow and thrive as businesses
- Tessitura would have to continue to build more robust technology, methodologies, and services to enable your organizations to grow and thrive as businesses
- The Tessitura community itself would need to grow significantly so we could reach the full sweep of humanity in our parts of the world
- We would need to partner with global technology, service and research organizations to allow the scale and expertise required for such an ambitious goal
- We would all need to work together even more than we do today. This is not a goal that any single organization can achieve alone.
If we could accomplish this goal, we would be accomplishing the goals and missions of all our organizations. And by doing that, together we would fill up all our communities with beauty, knowledge, creativity, compassion and understanding — which are foundational pillars of humanity. Foundational pillars of humanity that at times seem lacking in today’s world. Imagine a world that has arts and culture in every nook and cranny. Touching every life.
By succeeding as businesses we can succeed as humans.
To me, that is what the lush Tessitura forest could look like, if we take a moment to glance up from the trees.
Take Part in the Journey
So that’s our thinking. What is yours?
The best ideas for the Tessitura community have always begun with the Tessitura community. I’ve given a few of our thoughts for the future. Now it is your turn. At TLCC2019, we asked the attendees for their thoughts on the future of Tessitura. It was a great start to exploring what the attendees felt is important as we look to our next stage.
TLCC2019 attendees adding their thoughts and dreams for the future of Tessitura
In the coming months, in this blog and elsewhere, we will share what we are hearing, what we are learning and what we are thinking. As we have done since our founding, we will continue to ask for feedback in a variety of ways. Watch this space as we start building the framework and consensus to propel us to new heights. I’m looking forward to the journey.
P.S. You don’t need to wait around if you have ideas right now. Feel free to send thoughts my way (firstname.lastname@example.org) at any time...