By Leanne Day-Simpson –  Orchestra Librarian and Education Coordinator

By Barbara Burroughs -  Director of Education and Outreach

Moving from the position of Executive Assistant 16 years ago, when there were 8 people on staff to my current position as Director of Education and Outreach with a staff of 15, means that over this time I’ve done a little bit of everything.

During these sixteen years we’ve added 10 new full-time string players, reached over 24,000 children each year with our in-school demos, recitals, petting zoos and string classes; With our full orchestra and small ensembles we’ve traveled to 130 communities in all four corners of the state, reaching hundreds of thousands of people. Our Youth Orchestra program has almost doubled in size during that time period, growing from 125 students to almost 230 students from over 36 communities. We’ve expanded our “collaborations” with other local arts organizations and created “one of a kind” performances that have surpassed everyone’s expectations. We can count on our friends at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Ballet Arkansas, The Arkansas Festival Ballet, the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre, and Wildwood Center for the Performing Arts, and many other community groups, knowing that all of the Arts benefit from the creativity that only collaboration can bring. The work of the staff is not seasonal, as many think.

For Education and Outreach, summertime is our busiest time of the year. New school demos need to be created, brochures need to be designed and printed, teachers need to be contacted, rehearsals and auditions need to be scheduled, music needs to be selected and copied, students and volunteers need to organized, and most importantly, new ideas need to be bounced around, debated, funded and then implemented, and just as importantly, old programs need to be changed and adopted to meet the new needs of our growing audience. I would not have traded this life-changing work for anything else.

holiday concert