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The Relevance of Choir

Happy Back-to-School Season! 🍎

As choir directors return to classrooms and rehearsal halls, the concept of “choral community” might be top of mind. Many choral leaders liken choirs to families—we want every singer to feel like they belong and are celebrated through singing. Indeed, the choral community—the choral culture—is an important element of our collective work.

But community extends beyond our singers. In fact, it reaches far beyond any brick-and-mortar rehearsal space and touches many lives in the towns and cities in which we live. Choirs gain much of their identity by how the outside world views them. With this in mind, an advocacy mindset must be applied to ensure that choirs remain relevant to our communities. Only then can we build a solid base of support that can tackle a variety of challenges—recruitment, audience growth, and fundraising to name a few.

A new school year welcomes the opportunity for newness. How might you reorient your advocacy mindset through the lens of relevance?Here are some questions to guide your thinking:

  • Why does your choir matter to your community?

  • What need is your choir fulfilling among your community?

  • Are there certain populations that are not reflected in your choir/audience? Why?

  • Where do meaningful opportunities exist for your choir to deepen its ties to the community?

Believe it or not, there are some excellent resources out there that can help you along this journey. Here are a few:

  • 6 assumptions arts organizations are getting wrong Culture for Hire is an arts marketing consulting agency run by Ruth Hartt, a classically trained opera singer who now serves as chief of staff for the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. (Those with business or leadership backgrounds may recognize that namesake for the prolific literary contributions Christensen penned on business and leadership principles.) In this blog, Hartt outlines common trends in arts marketing (a.k.a. how arts organizations outwardly communicate) that get in the way of relevance and growth. While this article is geared toward independent arts entities, there are many nuggets of information that can help you reframe your perspective about how you tell your choir's story in your own community.

  • Relevance in the Choral Art: A Pathway to Connections This compilation of chapters is penned by many respected choral leaders across all repertoire and resource areas. Collected by former ACDA executive director Tim Sharp, applies the concept of relevance to many facets of choir, including programming, diversity, inclusion, and youth.

  • The Art of Relevance The Art of Relevance explores how mission-driven organizations can matter more to more people. The book is packed with dozens of inspiring examples, rags-to-relevance case studies, research-based frameworks, and practical advice on how your work can be more vital to your community. Perhaps the best part is that you can read it free online!

Happy reading, reframing, and reenergizing!

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