Ouachita Business Alliance gets Monroe Symphony update

BARRY STEVENS, president and CEO of the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council; Dr. Craig West, executive director of the Monroe Symphony Orchestra; and Carrick Inabnett, OBA chairman; led a lively discussion about the Monroe Symphony Orchestra’s past, present, and future at a recent OBA meeting.

Members of the Ouachita Business Alliance (OBA) welcomed Dr. Craig West, Executive Director of the Monroe Symphony Orchestra; (MSO) and Barry Stevens, Northeast Louisiana Arts Council president and CEO, to their meeting today. Dr. West was the guest presenter representing the Monroe Symphony.

Dr. West began his presentation with a brief history of the symphony, tipping his hat to Dr. Richard Worthington who formed the symphony in 1971 — some 48 years ago. He pointed out that the symphony has grown over the years in its offerings to the public.

“The MSO does classical concerts, the ever-popular POPs evening, seasonal concerts, and educational concerts,” West explained.

OBA members were particularly interested in the MSO “Sound Safari” — the organization’s educational outreach.

Area students hear a concert that is specifically designed to introduce the young audience to what an orchestra is, what it does, and what the individual instruments do within the orchestra to produce the incredible music.

Immediately after, the students go to the “instrument petting zoo” where they get to touch, bow some strings, blow a few notes, and hopefully get a better understanding of what it means to play each one.

Specific areas that are touched by the MSO are the community, tourism, education, and local government. West emphasized that developing strong relationships with each is important if the Symphony is to grow.

Funding is a primary concern, as the cost for producing just one concert runs tens of thousands of dollars. Without strong season ticket sales, dedicated sponsors, grants, and robust at-the-door ticket sales, the MSO cannot continue to serve our area.

Following his presentation, West asked for feedback concerning the MSO from those present. An excellent exchange followed with some good ideas brought forward.

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