August 2005 Convention
San Diego, CA

Bringing the Arts Together: How to Attract Young and Old to your Flute Club

Sunday, August 14

This panel discussion, moderated by NFA flute clubs coordinator Christine Cleary, featured representatives from four flute clubs across the nation: Shelley Collins (Seattle Flute Society), Marilyn Arey (Texas Flute Society), Jayn Rosenfeld (New York Flute Club), and Rosene Rohrer (Raleigh Area Flute Association). The discussions centered on common themes, such as organizational and administrative issues, recruitment of new members, innovative programming ideas, and successful communication tools. The panelists joined the audience in a circle of chairs, allowing for an informal and relaxed atmosphere to share and listen to each other’s ideas, questions, and concerns.

The panelists encouraged flute clubs to organize high-quality events (flute fairs and events with guest artists are best attended), maintain positive leadership that fosters creativity and an openness to new ideas (“let’s give it a try” mentality), make a conscious effort to have programs of interest to various groups throughout the year (but recognize that no single event will meet needs of all members), and strive for a spirit of inclusiveness and openness that values the gifts and presence of everyone.

Christine Cleary, Jayn Rosenfeld, Rosene Rohrer, Shelly Collins, and Marilyn Arey

Christine Cleary, Jayn Rosenfeld, Rosene Rohrer, Shelly Collins, and Marilyn Arey

A caution was given to not overextend the organization by planning too many events at a time, which usually results in diluting the audience pool and exhausting the volunteers. Much appreciation was expressed for volunteers (our most valuable resource) who spend hundreds of hours planning and implementing programs.

Keeping members informed of upcoming events is especially important. Use a variety of publicity tools, such as season brochures, newsletters, group emails (“yahoogroup” email is good), and Web sites. A variety of approaches is best, since multiple exposure to information will help members remember to attend. Be sure content is accurate, attractive, and complete.

To encourage attendance, vary the format of events from time to time. Instead of offering a traditional masterclass, provide opportunities for everyone present to actively participate. Including events for amateur flutists is especially important. Panelists shared some of their recent successful participatory programs for all ages and levels, among them a mass flute choir performance of a Henry Brant piece, an all-members’ recital held in a local art museum, and an Irish flute/dance class.

Attendees seemed especially grateful for these tips and suggestions. The class extended beyond the allotted time, and even then, the panelists found it difficult to break off the question and answer time. Obviously, the true value of these annual conventions is the opportunity to learn from one another and be encouraged in our work as fellow flutists and musicians.

—Rosene Rohrer