I spend a lot of time on the phone these days.
As the president of a company that serves more than 700 cultural organizations, much of that time is spent with the people who, in normal times, make the business of culture tick. I talk with leaders at grand institutions like the Sydney Opera House and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I talk with equally grand-in-spirit-if-not-size organizations like the tiny Broadway Rose Theatre Company in Tigard, Oregon and the Grange Park Opera in the UK (staff size: 12).
Right now, the first question I hear is always the same: What are you hearing?
The COVID-19 asteroid has hit, ash has blotted out the sun, the impact winter has settled in, and all of us are stumbling around in the dark.
After a few more of these calls, I realized that this question — What are you hearing? — wasn’t idle curiosity. It was a cry for help. The implied question was actually: What are you hearing that is working?
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And just like that, I realized what Tessitura could do to help. We could provide the industry with beacons in the dark. A forum for leaders who have found something that is working right now. A forum for visionaries to share what they’ve learned so far.
Not for a moment does this suggest that they have it all figured out — no one has! But ones who are displaying both vision and relevance in this moment are our beacons in the dark.
Introducing Innovators in Conversation
It is my pleasure to announce a new program of the Tessitura Network, open to everyone: Innovators in Conversation: Advancing the Future of Arts and Culture.
This is a weekly video chat with an industry leader in conversation with me. Each conversation will last 30 minutes and will be followed by 15 minutes of live Q&A. Each guest will share a few ideas that have worked, what hasn’t worked, what they have learned, and how they are thinking about the future.
My first three guests have displayed immediate and effective leadership in the heat of the COVID-19 crisis:
Tuesday, April 28
Scott Stulen, CEO and President, Philbrook Museum of Art
Tuesday, May 5
Annie Burridge, General Director and CEO, Austin Opera
Tuesday, May 12
Claire Spencer, Chief Executive Officer, Arts Centre Melbourne
In coming weeks, we will announce additional conversations with other visionary leaders from our community. The recorded conversations will be available on our website for anyone to watch later.
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Tessitura Network is a co-op. We are a member-owned non-profit. Our mission includes these words:
Tessitura Network enables and inspires cultural organizations of all sizes to achieve their goals…. by fostering learning, knowledge sharing and community collaboration between peers and organizations.
By providing this weekly beacon of light, we hope that the Tessitura community can give you some inspiration to find a way out of the dark.
Please join us.