All arts organizations are struggling in these lean times, but thanks to Seattle jazz fans and our loyal audiences and supporters Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra has finished a successful 15th season and fiscal year – artistically, financially, and in community service terms.
- Our artistic policy of offering one broadly popular program, at least one program of a lesser-known work not performed as often as we think merited, and programs significant in the history of American jazz, resulted in strong critical and audience reception to our season of Ray Charles, Ellington’s Far East Suite, Monk and Mingus, and Davis’ Birth of the Cool.
- We produced and released on Origin label a CD of Jimmy Heath’s Endless Search, an original jazz suite commissioned by SRJO in 2007. It is hitting the charts now; check it out.
- Our strategy of confronting the economic slump by expanding our main stage subscription series from six to eight performances paid off; subscribers responded well and seven of the eight concerts sold out, as did the annual SRJO/Earshot Ellington Sacred Music program at Town Hall.
- SRJO beat its budget for the year, with earned income rising to 56% of total revenues (vs. 40% or so for the typical arts org) thus cushioning the expected drop in corporate sponsorships and public arts grants. Individual contributions came through for us, for which we are especially grateful.
- We performed two Jazz4Kids programs at Benaroya, free concerts for families with children; these, too, were fully subscribed.
- Our pilot year of a new model of Jazz Scholars, free, weekly music instruction for selected middle schoolers, funded by the Clowes Family Fund of Indianapolis, met its goals. We have been rewarded with a three-year, declining balance renewal, permitting us to continue and further develop this important project of reaching the next generation through music and teaching them to play and appreciate this classic American art form.
- We revamped our website and launched this jazz blog that links from it; check us out at srjo.org
All this was achieved by trimming overhead and putting in enormous extra hours — from us, the band, our staff, our board of directors, our vetted instructors, and our volunteers. It shows that jazz is alive and well in Seattle, and we thank all of you for your support and encouragement.
We encourage you to spread our news, and to share your experiences with SRJO here in the comments section.
Clarence Acox & Michael Brockman