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Houston Early Music Initiates Second Phase Of Its New Pathways For the Arts Program

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Houston Early Music Initiates Second Phase Of Its New Pathways For the Arts Program

Houston Early Music's journey to build more resilience and momentum continues: The organization is entering its second year in EmcArts' New Pathways for the Arts l Houston, a three-year, multi-phase program designed to help Houston arts programs address their most complex organizational challenges.

"To fully capitalize on the tremendous growth and learning opportunities that EmcArts is offering us this year, Houston Early Music is naming 2020-2021 our Interlude Season," Houston Early Music Executive & Artistic Director Deborah Dunham said. "Instead of hosting live performances, we will serve Houston and Texas as an early music news and information hub."

Houston Early Music is preparing now to share early music news and performance announcements from throughout Texas on its website, The site also will feature links to early music performances from around the globe.

EmcArts is a nonprofit devoted to helping organizations overcome obstacles and adapt to changing circumstances.

"Our goal is to devote our second phase in the New Pathways for the Arts program to self-evaluation and the cultivation of strategies that will help Houston Early Music bring quality performances to the community well into the future," Dunham said. "We feel the opportunities this program provides to engage with other organizations and experience EmcArts' creative approach and ideas will be especially beneficial."

The New Pathways for the Arts l Houston program, supported by Houston Endowment, includes workshops, coaching, micro-grant support, and experimentation with "next practices."

Each activity fosters innovations that will enable participating organizations to weather complex challenges in the arts and nonprofit sectors.

Since joining New Pathways l Houston last fall, Houston Early Music board members and staff have attended six workshops designed to help participants identify their complex organizational challenges and determine which are most urgent.

The next step will be to start implementing what EmcArts calls "Small Experiments of Radical Intent." This is a strategic approach to developing the best solutions for Houston Early Music's unique challenges.

EmcArts Managing Director Melissa Dibble explained these experiments in a 2019 blog: "When operating in the realm of complexity, there are no ready answers. You can't simply bring in an expert to tell you what the best practices are for addressing your challenge. The only way forward, then, is through learning and experimentation. The principle here is learning by doing, not making a plan and then implementing it."

EmcArts recommends small, mostly risk-free experiments allowing organizations to try multiple ideas, learn from them and, when necessary, reject some of them. Small, low-risk experiments also free organizations to consider significant, or "radical," solutions to their challenges.

"Remarkably, the timing of our participation in the program poised us for a quick pivot to the realities of our present-day global crisis and the current state of the arts internationally," Dunham said.

Houston Early Music will be focusing on these Small Experiments of Radical Intent during its 2020-21 season.

Joining Houston Early Music in their Pathways for the Arts l Houston cohort are peers from Catastrophic Theatre, Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, Galveston Historical Foundation, Houston Boychoir, Silambam Houston and Pilot Dance Project.

During Phase II of Pathways for the Arts l Houston, Houston Early Music's experimentation team members will include the entire board of directors and members of the Houston arts community. Also, a panel of representatives from national organizations, such as Early Music America, will join the team for farther-reaching perspectives and discussion.

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