Appointing the next music director, Fabio Luisi, isn’t the only change the Dallas Symphony is making. In late June, the President and CEO Kim Noltemy and Board of Governors Chairman Sanjiv Yajnik announced the symphony’s new strategic plan.
There’s a lot to be excited about in the plan, not least of which is an emphasis on elevating the role of women in classical music and reflecting the community more through initiatives aimed at growing audiences—and audience diversity—via digital distribution and online content, brand reinvigoration and reaching outside of the Meyerson Symphony Center.
“It has been more than 10 years since our last strategic plan,” says Noltemy, the first woman to lead the organization in its history.
When Fabio Luisi was announced as the new music direction in June — replacing Zaap van Zweden, who years ago accepted the music directorship at the New York Philharmonic — he announced a plan to commission 20 new works over 10 years, with at least half of them by women.
“The women in classical music is something we realized DSO could work toward,” Noltemy says. “We've had these great associations with conductors like Karina Canellakis and Ruth Reinhardt. Most American orchestras have 50 percent women musicians, but you don't see it in other areas [like conducting or administration].
Representing our true vision of transparency and the idea that we’re open to everyone, we’re not just in our beautiful hall,” she adds. “We do concerts outside the hall, we want to do more community engagement and we want the idea for the DSO to be for everyone.”
Some of the initiatives, outlined below, will be launched this fall.
“My hope is that when people come into the hall in September and they read about it, they’re excited about what they’re hearing and seeing,” Noltemy says. “In two years’ time we will have made an enormous impact in their communities.”
As for the question of increasing diversity in its audiences, Noltemy says “we haven’t done a great job with that. … [there has been] a realization that old strategies, with regards to audience development on every level, are not really paying off. What we have to do involves bolder moves and risk-taking.”
Below is the news release from the DSO, with the full strategic plan.
DALLAS SYMPHONY ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES NEW STRATEGIC PLAN
Dallas Symphony Association Board of Governors Chairman Sanjiv Yajnik and President & CEO Kim Noltemy today announced the new strategic plan for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
“The Dallas Symphony Orchestra is entering an era of growth and expansion,” said Noltemy. “This growth will be reflected in programming and new initiatives that will have a long-term impact on the landscape of classical music in Dallas and the entire industry. It’s an exciting time to be part of the orchestra.”
“Kim’s leadership has positioned the DSO for revitalization and sparked an incredible energy to heavily engage our vibrant community along the way,” said Yajnik. “The soul of our city is found within the arts. From elevating the role of women in classical music, to enhancing the symphony experience, the new DSO initiatives offer opportunities to deepen our connection throughout North Texas.”
Key Initiatives include:
Introduction of Music Director Fabio Luisi and His Artistic Vision for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra – Beginning with his inaugural concerts on April 18 and 19, 2019, Maestro Luisi will launch the new artistic chapter of the DSO. Principal tenets of his vision include:
- An annual opera-in-concert performance, beginning with Richard Strauss’s Salome in 2019/20.
- Performances of rarely heard works that further spotlight the exceptional musicianship of the DSO musicians and highlight his expertise in a breadth of orchestral repertoire from many sources.
- Renewed focus on music by American composers, conducted both by the new Music Director and by visiting guest conductors.
- Continuation of the strong tradition of presenting the great choral-symphonic repertoire. Such programs will include major, rarely performed masterpieces such as Franz Schmidt’s Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln (2019/20).
Women in Classical Music – Designed to elevate the role of women in classical music and increase female representation in the field, the Dallas Symphony’s Women in Classical Music program is intended to create dialogue about and opportunities for female musicians at all stages in their careers. Facets of this program include:
- A ten-year program to commission 20 new works for the orchestra. This commissioning project will yield at least ten new works by female composers.
- Appointment of a female Principal Guest Conductor. A search committee has been formed to identify a conductor for a two-year position that would lead the DSO for four weeks per season.
- Formation of Composer-in-Residence position – This position will focus on creating works specifically for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and work closely with the Music Director and with the Principal Guest Conductor on planning and performance.
- Women in Classical Music Symposium in 2019 – This intensive and comprehensive symposium will cover women’s issues in all areas of classical music including orchestra members, soloists, composers and conductors. It will also address current issues of women in the workplace including #metoo as well as connect people for mentorship opportunities.
- Creation of a Career Advancement Award – Annual/bi-annual award to a person who has demonstrated strong leadership and is advancing to the next level.
Extensive Community Engagement Beginning in Dallas’s Southern Sector – These will be community-based education programs and affiliated events, designed to increase the DSO’s presence in the Southern Sector and affect positive change in the area. Opportunities will include:
- Partnerships with resident organizations in the area to develop concerts and other activities with collaboration and input from the residents of those neighborhoods.
- Building relationships with organizations in the area to develop performances and events that are of the greatest benefit to adults and children alike.
- Creation of additional in-school and after-school programs to complement the DSO’s current offerings.
- Development of a pathway for interested children to receive music lessons and instruments.
- Nurturing of grassroots connections between DSO musicians and staff and the residents of these neighborhoods.
Elevating the Concert Experience at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center for Today’s Audiences – The DSO will embrace what makes classical concerts unique while elevating the experience of going to a performance. Areas of enhancement will include:
- Added-value opportunities such as post-concert meet-and-greets and opportunities for social events.
- Reactivation of Betty Marcus Park to become an extension of the lobby and to host events and small performances.
- Engagement of the community in the overall use of the Meyerson, including regular hall tours and gatherings in the hall.
- Use of mobile technology to enhance the performance and communicate with patrons outside the Meyerson.
Reinvigorating the DSO Brand and Brand Promise – The DSO will strengthen its deep connections with audiences and its community and establish its position as one of the world’s great orchestras. This will include:
- Celebrating the history and looking to the future with a revitalized and digitized Dallas Symphony Orchestra Archives.
- Reengaging national and international media in stories about the DSO.
- Acquiring new audiences around the world through digital distribution of performances and online content.
- New branding that aligns with the vision and activities of the orchestra, led by Dallas-headquartered firm TracyLocke.
Planning for the Long-Term Financial Future – Aggressive earned and contributed revenue goals will be implemented to eliminate the structural deficit in four years. These goals include:
- Addition of concerts and performance offerings in the Meyerson and beyond.
- Achieving stronger partnerships in the booming Dallas corporate landscape to provide top corporations with ways to engage and retain talent.
- Identifying new funding opportunities throughout the organization to engage a diverse group of donors.
“The time is exactly right for an expansion of DSO programs and work,” said Noltemy. “The DSO has been a cornerstone of the cultural landscape in Dallas since its founding in 1900. As we launch this plan, our promise and commitment to our community will strengthen and our inclusion in the international cultural conversations will grow. We invite everyone to join us as we begin this new era at the DSO.”