What a year! After a successful 50th season, we took a moment to pause and reflect on our accomplishments with those near and dear to us. On May 9, 2019, 80 people representing a broad slice of the VocalEssence community—members of our board, staff, choirs, donors, patrons, volunteers, and advisory councils—came together to share in the success with great food, singing (of course), and fellowship with one another.
In addition to looking back, we asked everyone to participate in staff led conversations to dream about what’s next for VocalEssence. We heard so many wonderful ideas! A summary of the ideas that rose to the top is below. The ideas are listed in the categories that correspond with our Strategic Plan.
If you have an idea that is not listed here, feel free to reach out to our staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-547-1451 and let us know.
- Continue to diversify our offerings through the artists we work with, the spaces we perform in, and the genres that are performed
- Expand cross-generational performances (VocalEssence Singers Of This Age and Vintage Voices choirs)
- Partner with organizations that utilize the strengths of both partners
- Connect with diverse audiences by tapping into culturally diverse community events
- Address how welcoming VocalEssence is throughout the organization in areas such as our concert venues, program length, repertoire, translations, audition process, staff awareness.
- Explore ticket access opportunities such as rush tickets, bring a friend or comp a friend, pay what you can, ticket donation program
- Pursue an Inner-City concert tour
- Deepen donor connection by focusing messaging around three themes: excellence (artistic and otherwise), relevance (work that connects to “today’s audiences”), and impact (influences the lives of people beyond the organization)
- Hone our message about the impact of VocalEssence Singers Of This Age and include the youth choir more effectively as part of our cultivation strategy
- Increase donor presence on social media by showing how VocalEssence has made an impact on the lives of donors
- Invest in team building throughout the organization and commit to Inclusion, Access, and Equity work
- Explore future alternative artistic leadership model utilizing talents of multiple individuals
- Hire interns from racially diverse communities as a way to add diverse voices to the staff
2019-2020 Next Steps
The VocalEssence staff has combed through the list and identified ways to move the ideas forward. The 2019-2020 season will include a number of different programs that will connect people across differences. We will do this by engaging with new spaces and diverse artists at our Concert and Family Series events. We also are creating cross-generational performances. The Get Minnesota Singing Tour will combine our adult VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers with our youth choir VocalEssence Singers Of This Age (VESOTA) on a tour around Minnesota. The VocalEssence ReMix program will include emerging composers writing pieces for a combined group of VESOTA singers and older adult singers from our Vintage Voices program.
We also will be focusing our efforts on rethinking how we can be more inclusive and accessible to our entire community. The VocalEssence staff is currently working with Intercultural Organizational Development Consultant Beth Zemsky to delve deep into advancing inclusion, access, and equity through all the facets of our work. We will test out our new processes in a series of small action plans, overseen by Beth. These small action plans will include implementing rush tickets at the Concert Series concerts as well as continuing our partnership with MLatino Media to reach out to Spanish speaking families for our Family Series and hiring two Spanish-speaking interns to assist with Spanish speaking family outreach.
Finally, this season we are going to invest in collecting and sharing stories of impact from our singers, donors, and ticket buyers. We plan to share the stories on social media, in our concert program books, and with members of the community. In addition, we hope to connect our singers more deeply with our donors and ticket buyers so that they can see the true impact of their investment in our organization.
The Future: 2020 and Beyond
There are several ideas listed above that need more time to implement in the organization. A few of the future ideas are listed below.
- Develop a more inclusive planning process for 2020-21 season
- Explore the possibility of an inner-city tour
- Reevaluate donor messaging strategies
- Continue to think about the future of VocalEssence and the best leadership structure in the future
- Continue to invest in artistic excellence and leadership among staff and artists now and in the future
Thank you, again, to everyone who helped make our golden anniversary a success. Now on to year 51 and beyond!
50th Anniversary Annual Meeting Photos
Photo Credit: Laura Alpizar