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Jessica

Jessica Gethin

Year of Award: 2016 Award State: Western Australia Arts - Performing > Music
The Mr and Mrs Gerald Frank New Churchill Fellowship to further develop the creative and directive roles as a conductor through international mentoring - UK, USA
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Conclusion:

Symphony orchestras and opera companies across the US operate in different ways depending on their history and tradition, governance and focused area of intent. The organisations I interviewed that most valued the relationships with their staff and musicians, worked closely with their boards and donors and prioritised collaboration and community investment were the organisations I found to be most exciting and innovative in what they deliver. The most successful models were based on a Music Director who is an integral part of the long term artistic vision, programming, appointments of players, soloists and guest conductors as well as donor development. The partnership of the Music Director teamed with the support of an Executive Director who balances these factors with the logistical side, allows them to create their vision within given limits.

Smaller organisations need to create a unique identity to position themselves against the larger organisations, by executing a clear vision of what they are trying to achieve and defined long-term planning for positioning in the community. They need to engage the wider community support to do this. The notion of ‘ownership’ of an opera company or orchestra within the community to provide cultural identity and a voice for their city is invaluable.

The organisations that use the strategy of seeking funding through individual donors and philanthropic giving, reinforced the need to have a committed and proactive board who act as driving advocates for the organisation. This requires commitment to relationship building across the entire organisation.

The leadership styles, expectations and role of the conductor has changed greatly over the years, and factors of geography and management will affect this selection and behaviour. Conductors are now expected to demonstrate a range of leadership skills to be considered for selection in any Music Director role in the US. In Australia, increased support for conductor training at all levels and more encouragement in developing a conductor’s skills on home soil is crucial for a more sustainable industry.

Australian performance art start-ups and non-government funded arts organisations need to invest in developing community support and pro-active philanthropic boards. I believe we can do this over time, the first step is showing community leaders that the value of investment in the arts extends beyond entertainment, but as a vital part of humanity, expression and community civilisation. It is our duty to encourage an open conversation sharing ideas, networks and collaborations that connect and inspire people to see the value of our work. We need to connect across industries; business leaders with artists, mathematicians with poets, dancers with architects, scientists with musicians; sharing collective spaces and thought processes.

To conclude, this is just the beginning of a new conversation and responsibility to be pro-active in all areas of my work in Australia as a conductor, music director and arts leader. I am empowered by the connections and mentors I have made throughout this Fellowship and look forward to fostering these opportunities further as an Australian artist.

Key words: Conductor, Music Director, Leadership, Opera, Symphony Orchestra, Director, Sustainable arts, Philanthropy, Arts and Culture.

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