Getting SMART: New Tools for Sustainable Orchestras

Tuesday, February 26, 2:00pm EST/ 11:00am PST [PASSED]

  • Susan Nelson, Principal, TDC
  • Jesse Rosen, President & CEO, League of American Orchestras

A recording of this presentation is available here.

Web Conferences are free to the staff and board of GIA member organizations. The fee for nonmembers is $35.


Many nonprofits traditionally direct most of their financial focus toward balancing their budgets and growing their endowments, but are unaware of the need for proper capitalization and for planning that aligns strategy with financial resources to achieve sustainability. Responding to this, the League of American Orchestras asked TDC to help develop a tool that would help the League’s member orchestras improve understanding among their stakeholders of the principles of financial health and how to apply them to strategies, planning, and communications.

In this webinar, League president & CEO Jesse Rosen and Susan Nelson, principal of TDC, describe how this new SMART (Strategy, Money, and Alignment Readiness Tool) tool was tested with a group of orchestras, and what they have learned about how to advise orchestras going forward.

Presenter Bios:
  Susan Nelson, Principal, has been with TDC since 1987. In her many years with the firm, she has led a wide range of projects that include mergers, strategic and business planning, facilities planning, new project development plans, organizational and financial assessments, and financial restructuring. She has worked with clients across the country in areas such as arts and culture, community development, education, and youth development.

Nelson has led several groundbreaking initiatives on the capitalization issues facing the arts and cultural sectors that have been sponsored by funders including The Pew Charitable Trusts, the William Penn Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The Boston Foundation, the Barr Foundation, and the Fidelity Foundation. She has authored studies on the impact of debt on nonprofits as well as two major reports tracking the health of Boston’s arts and cultural sector. She has given presentations on these issues across the U.S. and Canada for such groups as the League of America Orchestras, Opera America, Theater Communications Group, Opera Canada, the Metcalf Foundation, and Grantmakers in the Arts.

Nelson began her career working with Sarah Caldwell at the Opera Company of Boston.

Jesse Rosen Jesse Rosen has been recognized as one of the outstanding thinkers in contemporary performing arts leadership. As president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras since July 2008, he has raised the level of debate about orchestras among the nation’s cultural, policy, and opinion leaders and among the League’s 800 member orchestras. Under Rosen’s guidance, the League has taken a leadership role in helping orchestras adapt to a rapidly changing environment, particularly in the recent financial downturn.

A sought after speaker and panelist, Rosen recently addressed gatherings presented by the Association of British Orchestras, the National Endowment for the Arts, Opera America, Yale University, University of Michigan, and the Juilliard and Eastman schools. He serves on the board of the American Composers Orchestra, as Vice Chair of the Performing Arts Alliance, and on the Board of Overseers of the Curtis Institute of Music. He is also on the Program Committee of Independent Sector.

Prior to joining the League, Rosen served as general manager of the Seattle Symphony, executive vice president and managing director of the American Composers Orchestra in New York City, orchestra manager of the New York Philharmonic, and vice president of programs for Affiliate Artists, Inc. A trombonist, he received his bachelor’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music and pursued graduate studies at The Juilliard School.