William: Please describe your organization
Hilda: We are very lean and mostly virtual. In fact Wiki Economics is now writing a case study on the Youth Orchestra. We have a full time staff of four. Our General Manager is Nina Weir; our Artistic Manager is Mark Gillespie.
The Orchestra is virtual except when we are conducting a tour. Each year, with the exception of 2007, the entire orchestra has gone on tour in the Americas and one year in Europe. We have played in the great halls of the world including Carnegie Hall in New York, The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the
Berlin Concert House, the Munich Concert Hall and St Peter's Basilica in Rome, as well as most of the great concert halls of Latin America like Teresa Carreno, Teatro Colon, Teatro Alfa, Bradesco, Casa de la Musica, Teatro Municipal.
This year's tour is the longest with the most performances. Before each tour the entire orchestra and staff gather to rehearse. This time also provides an opportunity for our faculty to join us and share personal time with the musicians. This rehearsal residency time is an essential part of the educational process. Each year we have gathered in a different location. My hope is that someday we will find a more permanent site. This year it was in Villavicencio, Colombia, last year in Boston at The new England Conservatory, in 2008 it was in Bahia, Brazil, the prior years it was Venezuela, Brussels, Costa Rica, Mexico, Boston, Washington DC.
Hilda: Our annual budget is in the range of two million dollars of which about 1.3 million is financed in-kind by presenters in each country, who capture ticket sales. Most of the cost is supported by private individuals, corporations, and foundations. We also receive some funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Washington Mayor's Commission on the Arts and Humanities, for music teaching programs we have done in Washington DC public schools. The Inter American Development Bank Foundation and the Andean Development Corporation have provided several scholarships over the years.
We are not supported by direct ticket sales as is the case with local orchestras. Typically the costs of a performance in each city are financed locally and the local organizers receive the ticket income. The local groups rent the hall and pay our room, board and transport locally. Our major expense, close to $600,000, is for international travel. We also pay our soloists faculty and conductors. Our administrative overhead is relatively low at about $350,000. We also have an online store www.yoa.org. You can buy CDs and download many of our performances from iTunes and the internet.
We are an IRS approved 501 C3 not-for-profit organization and contributions are tax deductible. We have obtained tax exempt status in Canada, Venezuela, and Costa Rica. In other countries we have arrangements with local foundations to process donations on our behalf.
William: What are your plans for the future?
Hilda: I see us operating a six lane musical superhighway, three lanes in each direction.
In the first -and fastest- lane is music training at the highest level. We train each of our musicians to perform at the peak of their abilities Eight weeks of training with YOA is equivalent to one year of best-in-class conservatory training. But we also teach the musicians to train others. Giving back to their communities in the Americas is central to our mission. Training works as a fast two lane highway.
The second lane is networking. We build what will be a lifelong support network amongst our musicians, conductors and faculty. This network provides a firm basis of support for the rest of their careers. But the network also extends back into the countries and communities of origin of each of our musicians. They tie members of their own community into a broad network of international orchestras, both full time and youth orchestras. They also provide access from the local communities to our entire network. Networking is the second two lane "mid-speed" highway.
The third two-way highway is civic leadership. We believe that the excellence, co-operation and management skills imbued into each musician in the orchestra translate to leadership in all areas of society, the arts, business, and politics. We benefit from the leadership of fine musicians from all over the hemisphere. We are convinced they will return to help strengthen civil leadership and strengthen the institutions of free societies wherever they go. The leadership lanes take a lifetime to develop but they bring true change to a whole generation of people.
This is our six lane highway to the future!!!! It's a great investment in human capital infrastructure. And some of the results you see very fast, in a matter of one to two years. The speed has been truly amazing-as has been the case with the Young Philharmonic of Colombia. It took one year of hard work to launch it and it is now performing to a very high standard. We feel very proud of helping to make it possible. It has also been the case with many of our musicians who have found full scholarships in major conservatories after only one year of joining YOA. This is a great return on investment.
William: Thank you for your time.
Hilda: Thank you for your interest and support.
William: How are you financed?