Tessitura has helped foster the camaraderie between the six organizations that are currently using Tessitura within Tulsa,”
says Katie Hathaway, software specialist with the Tulsa Arts Management Consortium. “We are able to talk to each other and share ideas.”
Tessitura offers the unique ability to support a consortium, a group of organizations that share a database while maintaining control over their own data and branding. One of these consortia is currently thriving in Tulsa, Oklahoma. For this three-part series, we spoke with several people to learn about what makes the “Tulsatura” Consortium work so well.
Structure of the Consortium
The consortium brings together a diverse group of organizations from across the city: the Philbrook Museum, Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Botanic Garden, Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Symphony, the Woody Guthrie Center, the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, and the Gilcrease Museum. The Tulsa Arts Management Consortium (TAMC), a nonprofit organization with its own staff, both manages the consortium and serves as a resource to all members.
“The reason everybody feels so invested is because they’re part of building it.”
Tessitura users in the Consortium meet regularly to discuss both day-to-day operations and longer-term planning. In addition, there is a Board of Directors which, as Consortium Manager Brian Parker explains, “includes staff members from all of our member organizations as well as board members or patrons from their organizations.” The TAMC board “meets quarterly to discuss the consortium’s budget and general planning with regard to how our shared Tessitura database is developed to help each member organization reach their goals.” Reflecting on the two layers of management, Parker says: “Engaging with both ‘boots on the ground’ Tessitura users and organizational leadership ensures that TAMC has a 360-degree view of our place within the arts and cultural space of Tulsa.”
Scott Black, Managing Director of Tulsa Ballet and President of the TAMC board, notes that board meetings are about more than management of the consortium. “We also have discussions just about what each of us are doing, what new projects we have coming up. Are there ways that we can collaborate? And are there ways we can use the Tessitura platform with that collaboration?”
Photo courtesy of Tulsa Ballet
In addition to the TAMC board meetings, Tessitura users in the consortium get together each month. “I think our commitment to monthly Tessitura User Group (TUG) meetings is an essential part of the ongoing work,” Parker says. “These meetings are our guaranteed opportunity to gather our Tessitura users (and even some non-users) in the same space to have an open discussion.”
Meetings might also feature presentations about new Tessitura functionality, “and occasionally feature peer-to-peer presentations which showcase special use cases being explored and implemented among our consortium member organizations,” Parker says. “The opportunity for our members to collaborate in this manner helps foster the ongoing training and learning of all users so that Tessitura is a ‘second nature’ tool that makes the job easier.”
Angela Carter, Development Director and clarinetist of the Tulsa Symphony, notes that consortium members make decisions collaboratively and agree upon timelines for long-term projects. Like the Tessitura Network itself, she says, “We have a roadmap of our own. We solicit input from the users.” Reflecting on the Tessitura Network as a whole, “The reason everybody feels so invested is because they’re part of building it. I think that’s the case on a tiny scale here in Tulsa. We’re kind of emulating the whole Tessitura Network right here.”
Photo courtesy of the Philbrook Museum of Art
Several Tessitura users in Tulsa mention the benefit of the support that TAMC provides. Cody Palmer, Web Developer at the Philbrook Museum, likens it to a “help desk kind of crew. If an organization has a problem, then they can provide them with some of their Tessitura knowledge, which is really nice.”
“Our consortium staff is fabulous about hearing the concerns and needs of the whole, and seeing how they can address it so that it benefits everybody.”
“Anyone who uses Tessitura can open a ticket and ask anything,” notes Keli Kirwin, Member Services Coordinator at the Tulsa Botanic Garden. “They’re so quick to reply, or to set up a meeting to help you work through it, or do training.”
“I rely on the help that we get,” says Richard Koenig, Development Director of the Tulsa Opera. “We're small; we can't do everything.”
“Our consortium staff is fabulous about hearing the concerns and needs of the whole,” says Colleen Lahti of the Tulsa Ballet, “and seeing how they can address it so that it benefits everybody.”
Brian Parker points out another advantage: when there is staff turnover, the consortium “ensures that there will always be central consortium staff that can provide training for new employees or refresher courses. This saves time because existing staff members are not asked to step away from tasks to do the training themselves.”
Consortium members can share not only resources but costs. Parker points out that “for some organizations, participation in the consortium simply helps make Tessitura more affordable than it would be if they were to be master licensees on their own.” Carter echoes that: “We would never have [Tessitura] ourselves” without the consortium. “We’re grateful to be able to use it.”
This article is Part 1 of 3.