Arts, Culture, and Humanities

EIGHTH BLACKBIRD PERFORMING ARTS ASSOCIATION

Moving music forward.

aka EIGHTH BLACKBIRD   |   Chicago, IL   |  www.eighthblackbird.org

Mission

Eighth Blackbird's mission is to move music forward through innovative performance, advocate for new music by living composers, and create a legacy of guiding an emerging generation of musicians.

Notes from the nonprofit

In addition to delivering a full performing, recording and residency season, enhanced by a series of regional Blackbird Creative Lab showcases another year as Ensemble-in-Residence at University of Richmond, Eighth Blackbird's board, ensemble and staff are using 2018-19 as a year to reflect, plan and restructure. Longterm sustainability, a recommitment to a strong Chicago presence, and the sextet's 25th anniversary in 2021 are guiding factors.

Ruling year info

2003

Executive Director

Ms. Lisa Kaplan

Artistic Director

Mr. Matthew Duvall

Main address

4045 N Rockwell St Second Floor

Chicago, IL 60618 USA

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EIN

41-2081766

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Performing Arts (A60)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How can performing artists leave a meaningful cultural legacy?

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

2018-19

Blackbird Creative Lab Fellows Showcase Melbourne Australia August 24, 2018 Cedille Records Soiree Chicago IL September 16, 2018 Olagón: A Cantata in Doublespeak Open Space Festival, Kansas City MO October 17, 2018 University of Richmond Residency Richmond VA October 29-November 3, 2018 On a Wire, Eugene Symphony & Family Concerts Eugene OR November 11-16, 2018 Acoustic Program, Residency Bozeman and Big Sky MT January 16-20, 2019 University of Richmond Residency Richmond VA February 4-7, 2019 Music for 18 Musicians & Residency @ Krannert Center UI, Champaign IL February 15-19, 2019 Genoa Italy February 25-28, 2019 University of Richmond Residency Richmond VA March 4-7, 2019 Blackbird Creative Lab Fellows Showcase Graham Reynolds Studio Austin TX March 8, 2019 San Antonio Chamber Music Society San Antonio TX March 11, 2019 Eighth Blackbird Highlights Universities at Memphis TN & Florence AL March 10-14, 2019 Blackbird Creative Lab Fellows Reunion Weekend Chicago IL March 15-18, 2019 Ace Hotel Chicago March 17, 2019 Live at WFMT March 18, 2019 University of Richmond Residency Richmond VA April 2-7, 2019 Eighth Blackbird Highlights & Residency MSU, East Lansing MI April 7-11, 2019 City Winery/Steppenwolf 1700 Chicago IL April and May 2019 TBD Pamela Z Commission w/ LA Philharmonic (Moon to Midnight) Los Angeles CA June 1, 2019 Blackbird Creative Lab Fellows Showcases Laguna Beach and Los Angeles CA June 2019 TBD Make Music Chicago and Lab Fellows Showcase Chicago IL June 21, 2019 Great Lakes Festival Detroit MI June 25-29, 2019 TBD Blackbird Creative Lab Fellows Showcase Detroit MI June 30, 2019

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified
Students
Budget
$950,000

For the 2018-19 season Eighth Blackbird is focusing on the second set of artistic and career development goals for the Lab. Four commissions by Lab composers appear on its acoustic program and 8BBPAA is producing a series of regional showcases to promote its first 60 fellows, while simultaneously creating opportunities to strengthen a national funding network and recruiting pipelines for future summer intensives. Northwestern University will lead exploration into longterm sustainability and inclusive recruitment, as well as conduct interviews with stakeholders regarding the first two years of the Lab. In 2017 , in celebration of its 20 year anniversary, Eighth Blackbird launched a new summer training program, the Blackbird Creative Lab (“The Lab”), focused on both cutting­ edge musicianship, dynamic performance aesthetic and savvy inventive development. The Lab’s mission is to inspire the next generation of performers and composers to share in the ensemble’s vision: to champion a distinctive, dynamic and engaging performance aesthetic. This intensive, human-centered experience will immerse lab fellows in a learn-by-doing, exploratory process of creating new work. By discovering and developing an audacious curatorial vision, lab fellows will be launched on their paths as provocateurs and visionaries in the arts. LAB ACTIVITIES Annually at the end of June, The Lab brings together a number of artists and resources for an intense two-week immersion set on a secluded campus setting at the Besant Hill school in Ojai, California: 30 Tuition-Free Fellowships, inclusive of room and board – 24 instrumentalists and 6 composers will be invited to participate each year based on their talent, technical proficiency, ability to communicate, personality, curiosity and creativity. 9 Faculty – The 6 members of Eighth Blackbird will be joined by 2 professional composers of contrasting styles and 1 choreographer/director at the top of their field. Guest Artists – Periodic and ongoing visits by creative experts in a diverse array of fields will added based on the selected fellows’ creative project proposals. Key Partners – The Besant Hill School will provide the facilities and community connections that allow The Lab to achieve its lofty artistic, educational and audience engagement goals. Over the course of the two-week experience, fellows will participate in: Coaching Sessions – Daily two-hour sessions led by faculty and guests Salon Hours – Gatherings before dinner for informal performances, cocktails and other non-musical activities Guest Lectures – Structured and unstructured opportunities to talk about a variety of musical and professional development topics with faculty and guests Individual Practice – Time for fellows to practice and study on their own Performances – Two culminating public performances to be captured on video EDUCATIONAL APPROACH Our learn-by-doing approach, developed over many years as resident artists at the finest conservatories and music schools across the country, is based upon five core values: unquestioned quality pervasive innovation intense work ethic genuine informality bold openness To prepare today’s most promising young performers and composers to develop a unique curatorial vision, Eighth Blackbird will infuse their preparation process and performing aesthetic into every interaction, taking fellows through a rigorous series of steps and critical questions: choose repertoire prepare imagine perform learn/refine LAB GOALS The Lab has four goals for fellows at the individual level: Develop artist-entrepreneur skills Develop performance and production skills Understand the Big Picture: art as product, curation, and branding Instill a sense of responsibility to cultivate and foster future generations of artists Performances of the fellows’ compositions and other works will occur at the close of every two-week Lab. Pending faculty evaluation, exceptional work created at The Lab may be cultivated for further technical and production development with the goal of realizing additional performances and other professional opportunities, which may be full programs or additions to existing Eighth Blackbird events. By staying actively engaged with the composers, performers and ensembles from The Lab after the program is concluded, Eighth Blackbird will continue a formal mentor relationship with the most promising fellows as they transition to professional life. WHY NOW? The world of live music performance is changing, and artists face big challenges in considering the future for themselves and for classical music. As the public’s cultural tastes diffuse and more entertainment options surface, musicians who rely on attendance are under growing pressure to find creative ways to connect with audiences so that they and the canon of repertoire they perform remain relevant. Our vision for the Blackbird Creative Lab is to have a systemic impact on a local, national and international level. Adding new compositions to the body of modern music is just the tip of the iceberg. Through the work of fellows and alumni, we not only want to generate public participation in and excitement for the brands, visions and products of our fellows, but also build community connectedness and collective openness to different issues and perspectives. By increasing the number of artists who make a difference, we can elevate performance experiences everywhere and inspire a great many others to be creative in their own lives and work.

Population(s) Served
Artists and performers
Students

Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago IL UVA: Coastal Futures Festival, Charlottesville VA UNCSA Presents, Winston-Salem NC Love Letters Gallery Pop Ups, Art Institute of Chicago, IL Ways of Looking with Pamela Z, Art Institute of Chicago, IL Sutton Concert Series, University of Oklahoma Third Practice Festival, University of Richmond Sweden Tour including Sound of Sweden Festival Cal Performances, Berkeley CA ice n' SPICE, Gettysburg College, PA National Gallery of Art, Washington DC Oregon Music Festival, Portland OR Transient Landscapes, University of Richmond, VA Ogden Symphony Orchestra, Utah Boise Chamber Music Series, Idaho

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

Where we work

Awards

MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions 2016

MacArthur Foundation

Visionary Award (inaugural) 2016

Chamber Music America

Ensemble of the Year 2017

Musical America

Best Performance: Holly Harrison Lobster Tales 2016

Australian Art Music Awards

Best Small Ensemble Performance: Filament 2016

Grammy Awards

Best Small Ensemble Performance: Meanwhile 2013

Grammy Awards

Best Small Ensemble Performance: Lonley Motel 2012

Grammy Awards

Best Small Ensemble Performance: strange imaginary animals 2008

Grammy Awards

Affiliations & memberships

University of Richmond Ensemble in Residence 2019

Museum of Contemporary Art Ensemble in Residence 2016

Ojai Music Festival Music Directors 2009

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

Eighth Blackbird’s mission—moving music forward through innovative performance, advocating for new music by living composers, and creating a legacy of guiding an emerging generation of musicians —extends beyond recording and touring to curation and education. By serving its mission Eighth Blackbird creates the following legacy: 1. Creating a canon of new work it has commissioned for the use of generations to come. 2. Building on a two-decade track record of extraordinary live an recorded performances. 3. Developing its Blackbird Creative Lab initiative to mentor and foster the next generation of new music mavericks, amplifying the organization's impact through the growing Lab network.

Ongoing commissioning, performing and recording of primarily new American work, culminating in the sextet's 25th Anniversary Season in 2021-22. Continued commitment to enhanced staging and live music experiences enriched by collaborations with world-class artists from music, visual, theater and interdisciplinary art worlds. Forward looking and sustainable development of the Blackbird Creative Lab initiative and its growing community of alumni fellows and incorporating the Lab approach into residencies in other contexts for additional constituents and audiences.

In addition to delivering a full performing and recoding season enhanced by a series of regional Blackbird Creative Lab showcase events, Eighth Blackbird's board, ensemble and staff are using 2018-19 as a season to reflect, plan and restructure with longterm sustainability and a recommitment to a strong Chicago presence as guiding factors. Eighth Blackbird has been developing a Theory of Change approach to artistic and strategic planning for the next four years with the 25th Anniversary season in 2021-22 as a focal point. The board is actively building its capacity and impact in the advancement of the organization. This exciting time of transition follows Eighth Blackbird's launch of its ambitious Blackbird Creative Lab and its exit as fiscal sponsor for and participant in the MacArthur-funded shared development project Creative Partners, both in June 2017. Organizational capacity includes: Engaged board focused on board development and growing its capacity and reach Leaner, dedicated staff and an org chart that more effectively leverages capacity from the six co-artistic directors Ongoing review and establishment of best practices in management of the organization Implementation of and ongoing training on Salesforce as an enterprise system for managing the organization, including more effective forecasting New paid internship and volunteer programs Third party support from Northwestern University, Forefront and other providers of targeted professional development Ongoing commitment from Chicago-based Cedille Records for new CD releases in 2019/20/21 Top tier booking agent David Lieberman Artist Representatives

Eighth Blackbird is actively creating more refined evaluation systems informed by its Theory of Change tool, work with Northwestern University's Leadership for Creative Enterprises program and its board who are leading structured approaches to long term artistic planning as well as the use of a company generated rubric for decision making. Salesforce now offers more robust forecasting and benchmarking capabilities and data from Lab fellows is now being systematically collected to measure long term impacts of that program.

Organizational: In 2018 Eighth Blackbird set the tone for its third decade of contemporary music performance, advocacy, and mentorship with a year filled with program launches, world premieres, and international debuts. The ensemble continued to serve its mission of moving music forward through innovative performance, advocacy of music by living composers, and guidance of an emerging generation of musicians through the importing and exporting of high quality arts experiences to/from Chicago and the inaugural edition of the Blackbird Creative Laboratory. Two important changes in leadership marked the beginning of the organization’s third decade. In January 2018, Eighth Blackbird appointed Interim Director of Development Deirdre Harrison to the newly created position of Chief Operating Officer, where she oversees the day-to-day operations of the organization in addition to managing fundraising efforts. Kate Bensen (President and CEO, The Chicago Network) took over as Board Chair in June 2018 from Christopher Joyce, who served in the position for 4 years. Kate’s goals for her tenure include organizing and completing a board-led strategic planning, strengthening the financial position of the organization, fortifying committee structures, and developing the board based on organizational needs. The Lab: Fulfilling a key area of Eighth Blackbird’s mission--creating a legacy of guiding an emerging generation of musicians--the Blackbird Creative Lab continues to be a crucial program of the organization. Having now completed the second edition of the Lab, Eighth Blackbird is excited by improvements made to the program, emerging year-to-year trends, and the growth, strength, and impact of the network the Lab is generating. Robust reporting on the first two years of The Blackbird Creative Lab began in the summer of 2018, and the current season 2018-19 will be focused on the long term impacts on the careers of fellows, of whom 60 are alumni of the program to date. Some major highlights that intercept with the ensemble's own goals include the programming of a third of the commissions generated by The Lab to date on the 2018-19 acoustic touring program, multiple subsequent performances and recordings of Lab commissions, the generation of several new ensembles, and reports of success in fundraising, employment and recording projects from the fellows.

Financials

EIGHTH BLACKBIRD PERFORMING ARTS ASSOCIATION
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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EIGHTH BLACKBIRD PERFORMING ARTS ASSOCIATION

Board of directors
as of 2/10/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Tony Scott-Green

Greenhouse Studios

Term: 2019 - 2022

Tremaine Atkinson

ch Distillery

Matthew Duvall

Eighth Blackbird

Jamie Rubin

Info Law Group

Peter Taub

Arts Consultant

Nancy Church

Advocate Christ Medical Center

Matt Hammer

Ayco

Bryce Dessner

The National

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 02/10/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not Transgender (Cisgender)

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Keywords

New music, experimental, interdisciplinary, composers, commissions, laboratory