Key Takeaways from the 2024 SphinxConnect Conference
Attain Partners and leaders in the classical music industry convened in Detroit, Michigan, last week for SphinxConnect, the largest American gathering focused on diversity in the arts.
Attain Partners shares the Sphinx Organization’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and actively celebrates our employees’ unique experiences, perspectives, and viewpoints—this enables us to deliver the highest quality services to our diverse clients. For many years, the Sphinx Organization has been both raising awareness around the issue of diversity in classical music and working to change the demographics of America’s orchestras to mirror the demographics of the nation more closely. It was an honor to engage with attendees and discuss how our digital transformation services can help them better reach and serve their communities.
Diversity Ignites Excellence
Diversity in classical music, the pipeline from music training to full-time employment, and the overall future of classical music were hot topics of discussion throughout SphinxConnect.
Since the goal of diversifying both on stage and behind the scenes has become consensus, many conversations turned to, “How?”
- How do we make orchestras into places where players from historically excluded communities can thrive?
- How do we develop a diverse applicant pool for our administrative positions?
- How can people from historically excluded communities make a difference in organizations that are still (often unconsciously) hostile to their unique contributions?
- How do we make orchestral and chamber music concerts into experiences that speak to today’s diverse audiences?
- How can we engage our community effectively?
- How do we introduce audiences to music by composers they’ve never heard of?
Some of these questions are perennial in the classical music world, but SphinxConnect brings together the kind of people who are building solutions, trying new things, and, most importantly, measuring their impact. Attendees shared success stories, advice, failures, and missteps in their own organizations’ attempts to increase diversity.
Diversity is Within Reach, Regardless of Your Resources
As we explored successful solutions in sessions and conversations, we kept coming back to the same question, “How can I do that at my organization?”
We noticed the budget differential between someone’s home organization and the one offering advice made the big wins seem impossible. But, just as often, the “My org could never pull that off,” feeling stems from some of the most common challenges that nonprofits face.
While talking to attendees about Attain Partners’ work and how we partner with nonprofits to help them meet their missions, we heard a lot of common challenges. These hurdles include, but are not limited to:
- Data silos and disconnection: Using too many different systems results in siloed, disconnected data with no single source of truth.
- Technical complexities in data access: Staff faces challenges extracting information from complex technical processes.
- Lack of tracking mechanisms: Absence of tracking mechanisms makes reporting on and/or understanding impact or program performance next-to-impossible.
- Manual processes: Almost nothing is automated, so basic, repetitive business processes consume most of the staff’s time.
- Ineffective change management: Big changes have been attempted, but largely failed due to resistance from staff.
- Lack of strategic planning: The desire to diversify the workplace has no strategy or plan guiding it, so no progress is made.
- Addressing bottlenecks: Staff can see the friction points in public-facing processes (ticketing, applications, giving, etc.), but are powerless to fix it.
- Insufficient alumni and donor engagement: Attempts to engage alumni or donors fall flat because those attempts amount to regular email blasts.
Like every industry, classical music has its own challenges. Yet they also face many of the same issues (e.g., organizational, technological, funding) that other nonprofit organizations encounter.
The Attain Partners team has extensive experience partnering with nonprofits to help improve systems for future diversity, and digital transformation, and ultimately mission advancement. Our consultants, many with firsthand nonprofit experience and deep personal connections to performing arts, help organizations build success by starting from a place of commitment to the mission.
Interested to learn more about how Attain Partners can advance your mission and bring diversity to your community? Let’s talk about how we can work together to create impact!
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About the Author
Jaemi Loeb is a Senior Consultant at Attain Partners and a veteran nonprofit leader. Her expertise sits at the intersection between technology and people, tools, and daily operations. She is passionate about helping organizations to streamline their workflows and use data to meet their missions.