A proposal to create MUSICUS : The Online Museum of Western Music History DRAFT - confidential Presented by The Schola Antiqua of Chicago Foundation
Background: Schola Antiqua
The Schola Antiqua of Chicago Foundation is a small arts organization, with big ideas and unparalleled connections in the world of Music Performance and Scholarship.
The primary mission of the Schola is to promote an understanding of music through performance, research, and education . The organization performs concerts and lectures for the public on a regular basis, records and produces CDs for purchase and download.
The Artistic Director of the Schola is Michael Alan Anderson , a faculty member at the Eastman School of Music, specializing in music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
The Executive Director of the Schola is Julie Brubaker , a strategy and technology consultant to Museums nationwide. Ms. Brubaker worked closely with John McCarter at the Field Museum on the Encyclopedia of Life ( www.eol.org ) project (the realization of E. O. Wilson’s dream “a webpage for every species”) – this project and its wide success provided the basis and backbone for the MUSICUS project.
The Business Manager of the Schola is Matthew Dean , who also serves as Director for Organization Research at the University of Chicago’s Development Office. Mr. Dean has a special focus on fundraising and development for arts initiatives.
Influenced by the success of EoL.org and the compelling need for an online space for music, Schola Antiqua and its leadership realized the need and developed the concept for MUSICUS: an online Museum of Music in 2008. We are pleased to present this idea today and look forward to a rich partnership.
MUSICUS will be an online Museum of music history; a “next-generation” version of an encyclopedia combined with all the rich social networking, design, and interactives that web 2.0 allows.
Just as a traditional historical Museum would have galleries devoted to a single topic or period, galleries in the proposed online Museum will be dedicated to subjects and periods in music dating back to the early Middle Ages (see mock-up for gallery examples).
Each gallery will be curated by one or more of the leading researchers in that period.
Free from the constraints of a physical Museum, each area of the website will offer unparalleled access not only to lively textual descriptions, images of musical sources and scores, and other highlights of the periods in music history, but also to “on-demand” performances of select repertories (ideally all digital video, not just audio) from some of the most outstanding performers around the world.
Each gallery and exhibit will provide curriculum tools to educators at multiple levels (pre-K-12 as well as higher ed), particularly educator guides
MUSICUS will furthermore feature rich, interactive educational content and tools to share this content on the web through social networking.
MUSICUS : Background
Over the past few decades, many have warned that the future of classical music and the traditional concert environment is in danger:
The traditional concert audiences are aging, and, as admissions rise to keep our finest musical organizations afloat, the next generation of potential concert-goers has been priced out of the market.
Funding for the fine arts in schools across the nation continues a downward trend, and the market share for classical music CDs has long hovered in the low single digits, a fact that has not been helped by the migration to downloadable music mp3s.
Even at the higher education level, there have been reductions to the breadth and depth of scholarship about the history of music: most recently, the Grove Dictionary of Music, long known as an invaluable resource for cutting edge research in music, will undergo restructuring to reduce the once incomparable level of service.
All of these factors demand new ideas for reversing the trend.
We can be sure that next generation of music enthusiasts has grown up with the internet and is accustomed to getting content on demand.
Unfortunately, traditional arts organizations in general have been slow to act in capitalizing on the opportunity to promote their talented artists and musical productions online to younger audiences.
Today’s arts organizations have a responsibility to artists and to the public to foster an environment where music and musicianship thrive.
An interactive online Museum for the history of music will allow the current generation to engage with art music and therefore develop an appreciation for the lost monuments of music history.
MUSICUS: Mission & Vision
The mission of MUSICUS is to engage audiences about the history of music in a way that allows them to explore and learn from our website, connect what they learn with other topics via technology, and become an outpost of outreach to share and communicate what they have learned to others via social networking.
Through our interpretative technology, we will focus on these four primary modes of engagement, to connect our visitors with music in a new and exciting way:
Learn to listen
Listen to learn
Make personal contributions
In order to accomplish this vision we will first build the online Museum, setting up the technology, website, content, and structures. This build phase will be for a finite period of time, with concrete goals and milestones, and rely mainly on capital funding. Once the online Museum is built, we will move into an operating phase, which will continue for the lifetime of the Museum, and will include reviewing and revising the content, marketing, and technologies to be accurate and relevant. MUSICUS is inspired by the examples of successful online Museums already set and proven in other disciplines, and the impact these are having on education, attendance, patronage, and increased awareness of these disciplines. Chief successes of this model are the Encyclopedia of Life, an online interactive encyclopedia of biology, with the goal of having a webpage for every species, the Chicago Postcard Museum, an online interactive Museum dedicated to the art of postcards, and the Online Titanic Museum, an online gallery dedicated to preserving the memory of the Olympic Class Steamers.
MUSICUS : Opportunities
The Schola Antiqua of Chicago Foundation is looking for other landmark organizations who represent the best in their field to partner with us on MUSICUS. A partnership between institutions might look like this:
The Schola Antiqua would provide artistic and administrative support, and would oversee the implementation of the project to ensure that it remains true to mission and vision. The Schola would contribute artistic, educational, and administrative advice and would be the steward of the project
We are looking for a Museum to provide support and guidance for the educational and administrative success of the project. Working with the Schola Antiqua, the Museum would also provide the technology and technology services needed to create and sustain this project. The Museum would further contribute its name (and the benefits that correspond with its name) and the worldwide respect its name garners for Museum and educational leadership.
We are looking for a Foundation or donor to provide financial support to the project on a capital and operational level so that the project would have the necessary funds to be successful. The Foundation would provide high-level advice and support for the project and also lend its name to the list of supporters of the project.
The Schola will manage the project, ensuring its success by working with the partnering organizations and hiring consultants and other experts to design and build the website, content, marketing, and educational materials.
It will take approximately one year to complete the initial build of the online museum and have it operational.
Based on the benchmarking of other online Museums, we believe that a successful museum is one that can sustain itself financially, either through charitable giving or revenue-generating activities.
In order to complete the initial build of MUSICUS, approximately $350,000 in capital funding is needed. Once built, annual operating costs are estimated to be $250,000. More details about the funding opportunities are available.
MUSICUS : Partnership Next Steps
Identify the institutional partners needed for the project’s success;
Identify key personnel to comprise the working team to get the structure in place for the project;
Solidify the definition of roles of the three organizations;
Solidify the budget and capital support;
Create an oversight board with milestones and goals;
Begin working on the initial build of the website.
“ He is a MUSICUS who taken to himself the art of music not by the servitude of work but by the rule of contemplation. He is a MUSICUS who assumes the skill of judging […] the whole of music.” (Boethius, De institutione Musica , 6 th c.)