While regional orchestras across the country are struggling to remain relevant and financially sustainable, the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra is thriving. It thinks differently about how regional orchestras can engage in problem-solving work and asks itself, “How do we use the orchestra to make our community better?”
The Orchestra has two signature initiatives that turn community engagement on its head. The Lakota Music Project and Music as Medicine both rely on community-led task forces to help set content, goals and direction. The Orchestra combines insights from task forces with evaluation feedback to build programs that transform the community. Its approach to audience development is rooted in community engagement, and continues to guide new partnerships, notably with local Muslim, Mexican and Chinese stakeholders.
The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra is a visionary leader when it comes to partnering with the community to help realize the healing power of music. It thrives because it transforms the traditional, transactional orchestra model into one that is focused on service to the community.