. Interchanging Idioms: Things you don't expect when trying to start an ensemble: TwtrSymphony, behind the scenes.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Things you don't expect when trying to start an ensemble: TwtrSymphony, behind the scenes.

There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes trying to get this ensemble off the ground.


Correspondence

Probably the most surprising aspect of working with TwtrSymphony is the amount of time I spend corresponding with people. Beyond just the tweets – which have moments of being fast and furious (and I've not been nearly active enough over the last three months) – I get emails from the musicians in the group, musicians wanting to join the group, people interested in knowing more about us and people wanting to sell us some service. There are details that have to be maintained when we get new musicians, like email addresses, instruments they play, biographies. Fortunately, We have a couple of volunteers who help with this administrative work. Still, it is a lot of work keeping it all organized.


Paperwork

Add to this our ambitions of setting TwtrSymphony up as a non-profit organization (like most other orchestras in the United States), and there is a host of paperwork to be filed, accountants to be conferred with, setting up a bank account, filing for a DBA, finding a non-profit lawyer (if you want to make sure to handle this all correctly) and other non-profit managers to get their advice on what not to do. It is important to get the paperwork right, because small mistakes in the way it is setup can lead to costly changes in the future.


Money
Then there are the money people. In the US, a non-profit organization needs to have a Board of Directors (the people who will eventually become my boss). They don't necessarily run the organization, but legally they are the ones responsible to ensure it's doing what it intended to do. Most orchestra board members also help to find funding in one way or another. Either they donate large sums as a philanthropic gesture, or they know people or organizations who do – and it's best if the board can do both. I don't naturally hobnob with people who have assets over a million dollars, so this has been a new experience for me to say the least.


Then then are all the grants and foundations which also give money to organizations. Until our non-profit status is complete, I can't really apply for any grants. Still, it is important to assess what's out there - to get an idea what's possible in terms of funding. You can lump corporations into this category too, as certainly the YouTube Symphony wouldn't have existed without the generous funding by Google. Since Twitter hasn't jumped on board our venture yet, I'm seeking other opportunities.


Marketing

While our musicians are really good at spreading the word about TwtrSymphony, there is still a need to have focused placement of tweets, Facebook posts, Tumblr posts and reaching out to magazines, reviewers and other media outlets. Fortunately, one of our administrators is willing to write the press releases.

budgets - More Paperwork

People and organizations that consider giving money want to see the budget, business plan and your goals for the future. This means having to have an idea as to where we are going, what's possible and what's not, taking a look at what we've done, what needs to change to do it better and what other options we could look at doing. Then putting all this into a simple format that's easy to read, understand and get excited about. Our concept is cool, but translating that into something that encourages people to give money to keep it going takes a lot of work.


None of the above issues has anything to do with music. There are numerous tasks I'm involved in with the music beyond just writing pieces for TwtrSymphony to play. Most of the music tasks I was aware of going into the project, or at least had a grasp of what might be involved. It is all the ancillary tasks people don't normally think about. Running an orchestra is a lot of work, and very little of it is music related. My hats off to all the other orchestras out there and their administrative staff. They have a lot of work to do to bring the music to life.

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