Tessitura is the language that everybody speaks,”
says Alfredo Garcia of Miami City Ballet. He continues: “Having Tessitura be the only language really helps because it enables everybody in the company to know what’s going on at the same level.”
At Miami City Ballet, he says, “Every single person who buys a ticket is a part of the family. And so we need a fully comprehensive platform that brings together every person at every touchpoint.”
“Once you get into the system, you realize the power that it has,” he says. “Every touchpoint can be allocated under one constituent profile. So there is no [separate] ticketing software and fundraising software, and a finance software that’s different for the revenue streams. It’s all in the same place, and that’s essential.” And so, after a decade on Tessitura, “we use it for everything,” Garcia says.
Renan Cerdeiro in Heatscape. Choreography by Justin Peck. Photo © Gene Schiavone.
Since much of Garcia’s own focus has been on fundraising, the moves management system is a big part of his work. “It’s beyond me how anybody can do effective fundraising without some kind of system like Plans and Portfolios in Tessitura,” he says. “The moves management system is essential for reaching prospects and donors.” (Read more about Tessitura’s fundraising capabilities.)
“It’s beyond me how anybody can do effective fundraising without a system like Plans and Portfolios in Tessitura.”
Miami City Ballet has chosen to extend their team by working with Tessitura Network’s Extended Services. Ongoing retainer relationships with Extended Services (previously called Tech Services) allow organizations to work with Tessitura-trained experts as an extension of their own staff. These flexible arrangements, which range from a few hours a week to much larger engagements, provide a broad variety of Tessitura services, from custom report writing to personalized training to advice on best practices.
“There’s multiple different ways to activate that kind of relationship with Tessitura. We chose to go with a retainer,” Garcia says, to help accomplish “major goals” in the organization. Some projects that he mentions include activating their memberships portal and implementing print-at-home ticketing.
“Tech [Extended] Services has been essential,” Garcia says. “All the tech staff is just so helpful. And it’s incredibly organized.” They manage their projects through weekly check-ins with Ballet staff and Extended Services personnel. “And even though there’s multiple people participating in the project, it doesn’t feel that way,” Garcia notes. “The communication is seamless, and so I don’t have to reiterate myself, I don’t have to take two steps back to take three steps forward.”
Garcia cites the Tessitura Learning & Community Conference (TLCC) as a big source of inspiration. “The Tessitura Conference has become what I would say is the best return on investment for our company because we have been able to secure almost super users overnight,” he says. He cites two ideas that the Ballet has implemented since learning about them at the conference. One was sparked by a Tessitura Mini-Magic presentation about a report created by Sydney Dance Company to display names, photos, and notes about donors and VIPs. “I took a picture of with my phone, and then asked Tessitura if they could implement it,” Garcia says.
Ellen Grocki and Miami City Ballet dancers in Company B. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.
Now that their Extended Services team has set up the report for the Ballet, Garcia enthuses: “We can create a list for attendees” for an event such as a donor trip. They can opt to have the report include biography notes on each attendee, “and boom, there they are: the bios with the pictures. [We] hand those off to our board members or to our development staff, and they have excellent tools at their disposal.”
The second project was a “creative new report” that Garcia hails as “life-changing for our organization.” He describes the report as “an integration of Plans and Portfolios with cash flow projections”: the complete-by date of each Plan (in other words, the date that the development staff expects a gift to come in) feeds into a monthly tracker, so that the finance department can make cash flow projections based on those estimates. “We just solved hours and hours and hours of talking and financial reconciliation between departments,” Garcia says. “The finance director loves it. He runs it almost weekly just to see what’s changing. The Board and the Finance Committee really love it.”
“All the tech staff is just so helpful. And it’s incredibly organized.”
Both these projects were easy to implement because of the Ballet’s ongoing relationship with Tech Services. The Ballet can determine projects based on institutional priorities, and the Extended Services staff are able to act as an extension of the Miami City Ballet team. So when the Ballet learns about a custom report that would help their work, or knows that they want to grow their membership program to better serve their patrons, Tech Services can help turn those ideas into reality. As Garcia says, the Extended Services team is there to “help us execute the goals that we have set in front of us.”
Top photo: Stage 4 — Miami City Ballet Dancers in Ballet Imperial. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Kyle Froman.