The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the 2008 League of American Orchestras Inaugural Development Fellowship Program: a Fellow's Report
Bair, Michelle E.
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Historically, the curriculum followed in the education of American arts administrators has been haphazard or amorphous. It was not, for example, until the late 1960s and early â€˜70s that formal arts management training was offered in higher education. In 1942, the League of American Orchestras (the League) was founded with the goal of providing advocacy and educational resources to American orchestras. As part of this mission, the League began educational fellowships for aspiring arts administrators. This document provides an account of and critical reflection on my work and educational experiences as a League Development Fellow hosted at The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) from July 2008 through December 2008. In 2008, the League launched its Development Fellowship Program, for which I was one of the first participants. I took this fellowship with the intent of enhancing my understanding of and skills in orchestra development, strategic planning, organizational practice, and leadership. This document discusses and critiques assignments for which I was responsible while in residency at the SPCO. It also analyzes educational opportunities afforded me by the League. Analysis of specific assignments articulates project goals, methodology, and conclusions, while educational experiences discuss the purpose, overview, and reflective conclusion on the impact of these experiences upon my knowledge and insight. The document also discusses the SPCOâ€™s business structure, artistic structure, and fundamental philosophies driving the organization. This fellowship taught me leadership, management, and organizational skills and increased my ability to be a productive member of an administrative team. The validity of this documentâ€™s insights is confirmed not only through my analysis, but also, more practically, because many of the initiatives I put in place have been or continue, currently, in application at the SPCO. Hence, the insights derived in this document are relevant for arts administration students, individuals in similar internship/fellowship situations, and for parallel organizations involved in advancing or altering development and management practices. The document provides the reader with a narrative of the Leagueâ€™s inaugural development fellowship year; insight into organizational and philosophical practices governing the SPCO; a methodological template, which was used in this document to present and analyze the specific projects for which I was responsible, that can be used by others in similar situations; and presentations, discussed in the document and available in the appendix, on orchestra development practices and effective leadership characteristics.