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ACR-134 50th anniversary of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras.(2019-2020)

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Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 134

Relative to the 50th anniversary of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras.

[ Filed with Secretary of State  September 26, 2019. ]


ACR 134, Chu. 50th anniversary of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras.
This measure would commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras.
Fiscal Committee: NO  

WHEREAS, From the beginning there has been a symbiotic relationship between the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO), the American Symphony Orchestras League, now called the League of American Orchestras, and state government through the offices of the California Arts Commission (commission), and later, its successor, the California Arts Council (CAC); and
WHEREAS, Assembly Bill No. 1, which created the commission on September 20, 1963, was passed just two years before the first financial assistance was made to the American Symphony Orchestras League for its summer Conductors’ Workshop at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in the County of Monterey. The purpose of that workshop was to offer a training opportunity to young California conductors and 80 percent of the participants were young California conductors; and
WHEREAS, The commission, with Martin Dibner as its first executive director, began holding symposiums around the state featuring celebrated speakers. Three hundred cultural leaders attended the 1965 San Francisco Symposium at which Roger Stevens deplored the fact that numerous school districts in California had abolished music instruction in primary schools in order to save money. The commission responded by funding a 1965–66 music touring program involving school districts and a dozen California orchestras and chamber ensembles; and
WHEREAS, The following year the commission held a symposium at Asilomar in conjunction with the League’s Conductors’ Workshop, by then an established annual event. The CAC file shows the 1967 conference “was considered an exciting and stimulating meeting with all of the sessions well attended”; and
WHEREAS, In furtherance of classical music, the commission brought together 46 representatives of the state’s symphony orchestras at the first State Assembly of California Symphony Orchestras during the last three days of the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Conductors’ Workshop at Asilomar in July 1969; and
WHEREAS, From a feasibility study, funded by the commission and presented to orchestra representatives during the Monterey meeting, came a new self-sustaining organization available to serve all of California’s symphonies. This new ACSO facilitates the exchange of artistic and management information, reduction of operating expenses by arranging cooperative use of artistic resources, and provides a means of coordinating workshops and special projects; and
WHEREAS, The success of the relationship was evident in several areas. The commission cosponsored ACSO’s third annual conference at Monte Corona, Lake Arrowhead in 1971, attended by 200 orchestra representatives of the state’s 112 community orchestras. The number of orchestras on record grew by 20, when the following year the commission helped to underwrite ACSO’s fourth annual conference in Sacramento for “California’s 132 diverse community orchestras,” in 1972. The word “community” was used to describe an orchestra’s place in the world rather than its budget or repertoire; and
WHEREAS, ACSO has grown in strength to the point that it can maintain an ongoing program of management workshops, young artists’ showcases, and consultative services for its membership; and
WHEREAS, ACSO was founded in 1969 by a small group of orchestra managers, in part, to be an advocacy organization to help champion public funding for the arts and the creation of the CAC. The organization then evolved into a full-service organization for California symphony orchestras in the 1980s. Today it is recognized as the “go-to” source for professional development in California and the West; and
WHEREAS, ACSO began with 23 orchestra members at its inception in 1969, and today has over 130 organizational members and serves a network of nearly 3,000 orchestra board members and staff throughout California and the Western United States; and
WHEREAS, ACSO is the largest state orchestra association in the United States and serves 90 percent of the viable orchestras in California; and
WHEREAS, ACSO has been consistently funded by the CAC since 1971 and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts nearly every year for the past two decades; and
WHEREAS, One-third of the ACSO’s membership is made up of community and small orchestras with budgets under $500,000, demonstrating that the ACSO is valued by an often underserved sector of the classical music field that benefits significantly from professional development support; and
WHEREAS, ACSO’s organizational membership extends beyond the border of California to include members in Arizona and Nevada and extends beyond orchestras to include music festivals and choruses; and
WHEREAS, ACSO went from initially being run by an all-volunteer board to being administered today by two full-time professional employees and several part-time employees, and is governed by a 20-plus-member board of directors who are leaders of arts organizations from throughout California; and
WHEREAS, This year, ACSO successfully completed a period of leadership transition that started in 2016 with the retirement of the long-time initial executive director of 31 years, Kris Sinclair, through a pivotal period of identity transformation and strategic planning under Mitch Menchaca, to Sarah Weber, who is ushering in the next 50 years of service to its members; and
WHEREAS, In addition to its annual conference, which is the jewel in its programmatic crown, ACSO offers a wide portfolio of professional development programs and services including a webinar series, annual symposiums for youth orchestras and music festivals, professional development forums, an annual awards program, research and technical assistance for our members, and a robust internet website with digital resources, advocacy alerts, news from the field, and concert postings; and
WHEREAS, ACSO has been managing a small grant program for the past three decades to support orchestras that want to hire expert consultants to help them with strategic planning, fundraising plans, audience development plans, and much more. In that time, it has funded over 100 orchestras and helped them build their administrative capacity; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof concurring, That the Legislature commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras; and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.