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Richmond Symphony to Receive Innovation Grant from the League of American Orchestras’ American Orchestras’ Futures Fund

M E D I A  A D V I S O R Y

Grant Supports Richmond Symphony’s Innovative Spirit and Impact

May 9, 2017 – Richmond, Virginia  – The Richmond Symphony is one of just twenty-one orchestras from across the United States to receive a grant from the League of American Orchestras’ American Orchestras’ Futures Fund. The two-year innovation grant, made possible by the generosity of the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation, will support the Symphony’s commitment to audience building through innovative programs such as Rush Hour at Hardywood, the VIBE music training program and the Big Tent initiative.

“The Richmond Symphony is honored to be included in such a group of nationally-regarded orchestras and to be considered a leader in creativity and innovation in our field,” says Richmond Symphony Executive Director David J.L Fisk. “We thank the League of American Orchestras and the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation for this generous support and recognition. We appreciate that our initiatives would not bear fruit without the significant investment of time and resources from partners like The City of Richmond, Richmond Public Schools, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Bon Secours, and the countless other individuals, businesses and organizations that make our work possible. This award is a tribute to all of them. The Symphony’s success is a reflection of the amazing people with whom we work and the communities we serve.”

“These twenty-one orchestras from across the country were chosen for their ability to influence a positive future for the art form,” said Jesse Rosen, President and CEO, League of American Orchestras. “They are making significant and exciting investments in organizational learning and innovation. We are grateful to the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation for their visionary support of this new program.”

“We are delighted by the diversity and reach of the twenty-one initiatives chosen in the first round of the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund,” said Lisa Delan, Director, the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation. “The Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation is deeply appreciative of the opportunity to collaborate with the League of American Orchestras on this program, and for the vision and courageousness of its member orchestras in exploring new ways to impact their communities, field-wide learning, and the future of classical music.”

This support will enable the Richmond Symphony to continue its multi-faceted approach to building public relevance and community engagement through three core activities: the Big Tent Initiative, which brings music to greenspaces throughout Richmond and beyond, creating multi-day community festivals designed to produce lasting benefits for the host neighborhoods; Supporting musical development in youth through programs like VIBE, one of its afterschool music instruction programs for Richmond Public School students; and creating experimental musical experiences tailored to local audiences through programs like Rush Hour at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and the Casual Fridays concert series.

These projects highlight the Richmond Symphony’s commitment to artistic excellence while creating new and exciting opportunities for collaboration and audience building. Through this work, the Symphony strives to meet a variety of audiences on their own terms (and in the case of the Big Tent, in their own backyards) to create experiences that feel authentic, meaningful, inclusive and help showcase the power of live music in the vibrant and growing city of Richmond.

“I congratulate the Richmond Symphony for receiving this distinguished honor,” said Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney. “We truly value the contributions of our symphony, among the crown jewels of RVA’s art and cultural amenities, and I applaud them for their accomplishments and work they do within our community.”

“The Richmond Symphony is making great strides in their goal of introducing new audiences to symphonic music and creating unique environments in which to enjoy it,” says Patrick Murtaugh, Co-Founder of Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. “Hardywood is thrilled to be playing a role in this effort through hosting the Rush Hour concert series in our barrel cellar. We look forward continuing and building on this partnership in the future.”

The $4.5 million American Orchestras’ Future Fund program will include another round of two-year grants for small- and medium-budget orchestras, to be announced in 2018.

The initiatives funded include a wide range of innovation efforts, from community and neighborhood residencies, programs redefining the concert experience, and projects aimed at increasing audience diversity, to piloting new organizational practices, fruitful artistic collaborations, and the use of new technologies within the concert hall.

For this first round, U.S.-based large- and medium-budget orchestras that are members of the League of American Orchestras were eligible to apply. An independent review panel selected the orchestras based on criteria including the organization’s capacity to respond and adapt to opportunities and changed circumstances, and the potential for artistic, internal, community, public value, and field-wide impact. The program and evaluation consultants for the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund are, respectively, Sarah Lutman (Lutman & Associates) and Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf (WolfBrown).


This round’s Futures Fund recipients include:

Albany Symphony – expansion of the American Music Festival, the Symphony’s multi-day celebration of living American composers and new orchestral compositions

Boston Symphony Orchestra – launch of BSO in Residence, an engagement initiative to build reciprocal partnerships between neighborhoods and the orchestra

Dallas Symphony Orchestra – support for three audience development initiatives: DSO Teen Council, ReMix concert series, and SOLUNA International Music & Arts Festival

Detroit Symphony Orchestra – expansion of the Neighborhood Residency Initiative, in order to connect more deeply with audiences and diversify learning and service

Handel and Haydn Society – launch of research that will test hypotheses about barriers to attendance and identify strategies for increasing the racial diversity of the audience

Houston Symphony – support for the Community-Embedded Musicians initiative, which expands the orchestra’s team of full-time musicians by adding four new hybrid positions

Knoxville Symphony – launch of the colLABoratory series to attract new concert goers and support of the Music & Wellness program, which enhances the healing process

Los Angeles Philharmonic – expansion of the El Sistema-inspired Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) in order to increase its national as well as local impact

Minnesota Orchestra – enhancement of The Minnesota Model, a framework to address organizational priorities and create shared ownership among all orchestra stakeholders

Nashville Symphony – support for the diversity plan, including inventive programming, preparing young musicians of diverse backgrounds, and altering the organizational culture

New Haven Symphony Orchestra – launch of a string fellowship program to encourage inclusion and diversity in the concert hall and across the community

New World Symphony – support for audience development: a collaboratively sourced symphonic video involving community residents and musician-driven concerts and events

New York Philharmonic – support for Facebook Live broadcasts to reach new and diverse audiences around the world through performances, interviews, and online conversation

Oakland Symphony – launch of the Playlist concert series, blending a concert with a town hall experience to explore the unexpected role music plays beyond the concert stage

Orchestra of St. Luke’s – support for Classical Music Made Digital, an initiative for creating a content strategy and distribution model informed by other musical genres and art forms

Pacific Symphony – support for engaging an increasingly diverse community, including continuing experimentation with site-specific concerts and partnership-based programming

Portland Symphony Orchestra (Maine) – expansion of the PSO Explorers program, an arts-integrated literacy program in the Portland Public Schools that will serve grades K-3

Richmond Symphony – support for several community programs including the Big Tent Project, which brings music to greenspaces, and the VIBE afterschool music program

San Diego Symphony – support for engaging a diverse community, including annual month-long festivals designed around thematic ideas addressing important issues of today

San Francisco Symphony – support for SoundBox, a concert series in an experimental space that enables the audience to approach classical music in a new way

Seattle Symphony – expansion of the Simple Gifts homelessness initiative, including programs for people recovering from addiction and programs for women and children


About the Richmond Symphony

Founded in 1957, the Richmond Symphony is the largest performing arts organization in Central Virginia. The organization includes an orchestra of more than 70 professional musicians, the 150-voice Richmond Symphony Chorus and more than 260 students in the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra programs. Each season, more than 200,000 members of the community enjoy concerts, and radio broadcasts. The Symphony also provides educational outreach programs to over 50,000 students and teachers each year. The Richmond Symphony is partially funded by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Visit www.richmondsymphony.com.


The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of more than 2,000 organizations and individuals across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned symphonies to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles, from conservatories to libraries, from businesses serving orchestras to individuals who love symphonic music. The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform people around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners. Visit americanorchestras.org.


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Scott Dodson, Director of Advancement and Patron Communications

804.788.4717 ext. 120