• Artists: Setting Criteria

    Before you begin assembling a roster of artists, you need to consider your goals and resources. Ask yourselves the following questions:

    • • What kinds of music and artists can best support the demonstrated needs and requests of the venues?
    • • What are the demographics of each venue, and what kinds of artists will best connect to these populations?
    • • What kinds of performing artists live and work in and around our community?
    • • What artistic and personal qualities are we looking for in our artists?
    • • What can we do well?
       
  • Assessing Your Goals and Resources

    What kinds of music and artists can best support the demonstrated needs and requests of the venues?

    The programming needs of host venues are likely to range widely, from single performances to interactive, long-term projects involving the creation of new music. As your programs and relationships evolve over time, you will very likely need to revise your recruiting strategy in order to ensure that there are enough roster artists capable of this kind of composition- or project-based work. At Carnegie Hall, for example, because we were doing a lot of generative work and longer-term projects, we discovered we needed performers who possessed additional skills, such as composing, improvisation, and arranging.

    • • What are the demographics of each venue?
    • • What kinds of artists will best connect to these populations?
    While it’s healthy to challenge audiences to broaden their musical tastes and interests, you also want to make sure that you have artists on your roster whose musical style and genre allows them to connect with and engage the demographic of each venue. 

    What kinds of performing artists live and work in and around our community?

    As a major performing arts organization located in New York City, Carnegie Hall has access to a large pool of professional musicians of all kinds, including visiting artists who may be recruited for special projects. If your artist pool is smaller or less diverse, you may have to tailor your programs accordingly. The one criterion that should never be compromised is quality: For community work to succeed, the artistic standards must be high.

    What artistic and personal qualities are we looking for in our artists?

    At Carnegie Hall, our basic criteria include:

    • • Top-flight musical and technical skills, including the ability to perform as well as lead generative projects
    • • Ability to communicate and engage as human beings through music
    • • A certain level of experience combined with an openness to learning and growing. While prior experience in these types of settings is helpful, we do not rule out individuals or groups without experience; the ability to learn is more important than the number of times they have performed in a shelter or hospital.
    • • Openness to performing in non-traditional settings
    • • Schedules that permit full participation in all aspects of the program, including performances, planning, sharing with fellow artists, and formal professional development. We require that all roster artists commit to the program for at least two years, both to build community and promote shared learning within the artists’ group and to build relationships with facility staff, administrators, and—depending on the institution’s population—with participants.
    • • Ensembles with a stable core of members available to attend all scheduled programs and professional development workshops

    What can we do well?

    Because one of the goals of Musical Connections is to provide artists with a great learning experience, it is important to ask the following questions as you assemble your artist roster: How much time can we devote to the professional development of our artists, in both formal workshop settings and through informal interaction? How far can our budget stretch? Your answers will help you develop a realistic plan that allows for solid, ongoing support for artists.

    • Roster size: Your roster should be large enough to cover your programmatic needs, but not so large that you can’t provide artists with sufficient training and feedback.
    • Artist compensation: Given the nature of responsive programming, which may be anything from a single performance to a long-term, interactive workshop, determining compensation is tricky. Use local pay scales for professional musicians as a starting point, then carefully monitor the work to make sure the compensation matches the intensity and time commitment involved.
    • Transportation: Given the amount of activity and the level of Carnegie Hall’s investment in programming and professional development, we require artists to live in the New York metropolitan area and be responsible for the cost of their own commutes. If, however, you are providing services over a wider geographic area, you might decide to allocate some funds for artists’ transportation.
    • Equipment: Musical Connections programs typically take place in non-traditional performance settings with little or no technical equipment and enough variation to make it impossible to anticipate needs. We therefore choose artists based, in part, on their ability to bring their own amps, sound equipment, instruments, music stands, and so on. In special cases, we rent equipment and create a budget for such contingencies.