Monday, July 11, 2011

No rest for the weary!

Summer is finally here in Seattle, and I can't tell you how many times I've heard some variation on "So, you finally get some time off...!"  Hardly, friends - summer is practically as busy as the standard season around here, but without the motivating press of weekly rehearsals, events and concerts.  Add the lure of the outdoors, and it's downright difficult to stay productive, even though there are eighty things to do on any given day!

During the season, big, unwieldy, or secondary support projects get 'summer status' - we expect that we'll have more TIME to organize X or sort Y or analyze Z.  But it seems we've conveniently forgotten that summer is when we formulate the budget for the following year; revisit our strategic planning documents; turn in multiple grant applications; structure our digital and print marketing strategies for the upcoming season; and countless other things! 

Karen and our beautiful brochures.
For example: we work with our fabulous graphic designer, David Owen Hastings, to create print materials that represent Seattle Pro Musica in the best light.  First, Karen creates concert descriptions and a letter from the conductor; I take that content and administrative necessities, like adjustments to the order form or the donor perks.  Then, we send it off to David so he can work his magic.  Then, David, Karen, Carole (the head of the Marketing committee and an excellent designer in her own right) and I meet to evaluate color concepts, new elements, and changes.  Eventually the whole project is shipped to our printer, and subsequently proofed, printed, and sent back to us so we can send it along to you.

A major step up from handwritten slips!
I spent some time researching new strategies for the coming year's season subscription and single pass sales, which are now available through a locally owned and operated company, Brown Paper Tickets.  While we're making changes, we're seriously considering using Square for at-the-door sales and transactions. I would love to simplify our box office procedures!

Ready for pickup or delivery.
We work to fulfill our promises to our choristers - Seattle Pro Musica singers receive a professionally recorded and digitally remastered copy of each of our concerts. Karen spends hours listening to the master recordings, selecting the best tracks from multiple performances and identifying coughs and other aural pollution that Bill Levey of Via Audio, audio engineer extraordinaire, can eliminate.  When the master is complete, I create a beautiful insert and label, and volunteers (in this case, sopranos Lillian and Lyn) assemble the final project.  

Brahms rocks.
And, of course, there are musical things, too!  Karen is conducting the Brahms Requiem for the first of Seattle Symphony Chorale's annual Summer Sings events tonight, so we've been listening here in the office.  Soon, I'll be prepping excerpts to send to potential singers for the 2011-12 season - as we're now taking audition appointments.

Next I'm back to work on strategic planning documents for a meeting tomorrow night, and working with Salesforce to finalize the entry fields for updates to our donor database.  When that's done, I'll send out our season press release, update the website again with new downloadable content and maybe - eventually - get to work on my favorite thing of all, filing. (Flargh.)

Summer's lovely, but there's no real break in the workload - just different work.  I bet this is true for every non-profit arts organization - just because we're not rehearsing doesn't mean we're not working behind the scenes to prepare for what comes next!