What Community-Supporting Sounds Like…
- To honor and preserve the legacy of DSO President Emeritus Anne Parsons.
- To highlight our institutional values of Excellence, Collaboration, Innovation, Diversity and Resilience – developed under Anne’s leadership.
- To achieve Anne’s ultimate goal of raising endowment sufficient to ensure stability that transcends economic or political crises while advancing artistic excellence for future generations.
- To increase accessibility and connectivity to the DSO by:
- providing affordable and/or free opportunities in Orchestra Hall and throughout neighborhoods and communities in Southeast Michigan, and
- offering state-of-the-art digital access in Detroit classrooms and around the globe.
During her 17-year tenure with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, President Emeritus Anne Parsons held an unwavering belief in the DSO’s role in Detroit and worked tirelessly to make that vision a reality. Anne successfully navigated the DSO through local and national economic downturns and the current global pandemic, all while greatly improving the orchestra’s financial outlook and growing the audience and donor base, which has resulted in nine consecutive operating surpluses from 2013 to 2021. Anne was also responsible for recruiting two new music directors to Detroit and promoting global prominence for the orchestra through touring and webcasts.
Anne’s vision of making the DSO the most accessible orchestra on the planet led to an increased focus on serving audiences and the community through innovative new offerings and partnerships. In 2011, she oversaw the launch of “Live from Orchestra Hall,” the DSO’s industry-leading series of free, live HD webcasts that engages audiences worldwide. The series was expanded in 2014 with Classroom Edition—educational concerts by the DSO that reach tens of thousands of students in Detroit schools and around the world each year. The DSO’s early adoption of digital technology, plus its emphasis on webcasting every Classical Series subscription concert—leading to a robust archive—positioned the orchestra to pivot successfully and quickly to virtual programming during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, Anne’s emphasis on engaging local audiences has enabled fans in Detroit and across the region to enjoy DSO musicians in chamber music programs, senior engagement concerts, music therapy partnerships, in-school appearances, and full orchestra performances through the DTE Energy Foundation Community Concerts and the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series.
Most recently, the DSO has added two new plans to its Detroit Strategy: the Detroit Neighborhood Initiative, a community-driven process to create unique musical experiences throughout Detroit while aligning with the priorities of the city’s neighborhoods; and Detroit Harmony, a collaborative project to provide an instrument and music education to any interested Detroit student and create hundreds of related jobs through workforce development partnerships. Spearheaded by Anne, the DSO is also in the middle of a multi-year process to develop a comprehensive Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) strategy, and recently completed a Mission and Values Taskforce to reexamine and continue improvements made in the organization’s internal culture during her tenure.
For more than a decade, the DSO has invested in community partnerships through health care institutions, social service organizations, community organizations, educational institutions, and others to deliver the inspiration of music and human connection. This important programming, as part of our community and learning efforts, relies on annual restricted funding.
In 2022, to fully realize our shared vision of being an inclusive and culturally relevant community where all can experience their world through music, we must continue to strengthen our roots here, in the incredible and resilient city of Detroit. We understand that to address the needs of all Detroiters, we must come to better understand those needs. We must create spaces for open listening and take time to process the information shared. We must build trust. The success of our relationship with Detroit communities is reliant upon our ability to connect deeply with the people in those communities.
By honoring her impactful legacy through the Anne Parsons Leadership Fund, we believe this is the time to secure the capital required to carry out our collective vision for the DSO and our community. This endowed fund will ensure that Anne’s inspired vision that the DSO is a community-supported as well as a community-supporting institution, will continue in perpetuity.
We envision a future where we are not constrained by our physical surroundings – one that is uplifting and unifying and helps us navigate through sometimes impossibly difficult times with grace, power, and compassion. We have embarked on the second phase of the DSO Impact Campaign and are deepening our commitment to community work in Detroit. Together we will perpetuate Anne’s spirit, resilience, and legacy through an endowed fund in her honor.
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