Monday, May 19, 2008

Shreveport Symphony players Peter Haas, Chan Teague call for new orchestra board of directors

In a bold letter to the editorial page of the Shreveport Times, orchestra leaders Peter Haas and Chan Teague have called for replacement of the orchestra's board and administration.

They assert, "We agree with SSO board members Libby Siskron and Berte Muslow that the SSO belongs to the community and should expand its visibility and donor base, and further, expand board governance deeper into the Shreveport-Bossier City community. The SSO should not be reserved as a social outlet for a few but rather a cultural resource for all and supported by many — inclusive rather than exclusive."

I personally hereby volunteer to return to the board. Those who want to forge a new spirit in an old town need to take this opportunity to volunteer their labor alongside me.

My commitment to fund raising would be in phoning a long list of donors. I've done this work before and had some success. I've also felt burned out on it; yet it is time to do it again.

When I first moved to Shreveport one of the SSO"s top ticket sellers, the late Mrs. Dr. Sherman Gorton, called each year. She made sure, in a diplomatic way, that I remained in the fold of the ticket holders. That direct contact by a local personality made an unforgettable difference to me.

Yet board members need to have much deeper pockets than me, since my bread-and-butter is being a Caddo teacher. That means new board members should know that a large personal contribution needs to made right now.

One of my priorities would be making a special appeal for leadership from the African-American half of the city. There lies an enormous amount of brainpower and financial support. Also, the growth in the Asian and Hispanic communities in the region have made it imperative that Asian and Hispanic money and insight are part of the symphony's leadership group.

New board members and new solicitations need to be activated post haste. The afterglow of the successful Constellation Ball and Picnic Pops concert is a leverage that can be used for good if we are quick-footed.


Anonymous said...

Bravissimo to Trudeau for his willingness to take on this daunting task. You are likely to encounter much opposition if you try to change the only direction those with tunnel vision are able to see, but I hope with all my heart you succeed.

Robert E Trudeau said...

Thanks, Anon. I hope that people who feel like they can roll up sleeves and work side-by-side with me will give me their names and numbers (or talk to Margaret Elrod via the SSO line, 227-tune).

Talked to Brady Blade, Jr, this morning and he said he would help the SSO efforts. That is quite encouraging. Blade could help in recruiting fund raising muscle and building a bigger coalition for the SSO.

Anonymous said...

If it's about the money, SSO may have to suck up and start seeking the King's Shilling. That's a tried and true tactic that has worked with some success hereabouts. Problem is, there's little or no room left at the trough.

Sci-Port comes to mind: a bold stroke for Shrevie, but seriously underfunded until (ta-da!) they struck a deal with the school board(s)for a volume of usage that covers the overhead.

Just look at the Strand, which limps along on "subscriptions" but can't seem to escape the doldrums. My bet is they will seek "linkages" and "leverage" with some public body (like the city) to get a needed infusion of public cash. If not, they'll have to either shop down their venue to increase usage or scale back even further.

The Robinson Film Center will, IMHO, go the way of Sci-Port, eventually working some deal with a public or non-profit which will shuttle usage volume sufficient to keep the lights on. If it doesn't, like Joy's Quail Creek Cinema, it may have to rely on the kindness of strangers. The telltale when be if the cafe scales back or closes, which usually seems to be the first thing thrown overboard.

Good luck with SSO. Times are tough all over, and finding the discretionary money sufficient to keep a fulltime symphony in a community about maxxed on "giving" may be a supreme challenge.

Robert E Trudeau said...

Thanks for a savvy and unusually broad analysis, Anon. I hope everyone will read your remarks and be aware of the road ahead, since you've touched on the nature of some of the most important quality of life institutions hereabouts.

Can we build a city-wide coalition to designate the SSO an Econ Dev tool and agent for educational progress? And thus obtain sustaining funds? It's certainly worth trying.