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The Breakthrough Plan

June 2017 Update
 

Context

Over the past three years, the Peabody Institute has been engaged in an energizing process of repositioning itself within the world of music conservatories, its home community of Baltimore, and within the multi-faceted framework of the renowned Johns Hopkins University, of which it has been a part since the late 1970s.  It has embarked on a stimulating period of growth, focused on excellence, innovation, and leading the way in adapting to the changes in the American and international classical music landscape.  Founded in 1857, Peabody is the oldest conservatory in the nation and has a storied history.  Despite that history, Peabody’s financial resources have never matched its artistic and educational profile.  Historically under-capitalized, it has “punched above its weight.”  Over the years, its landmark buildings have seen artists such as Peter Tchaikovsky, Anton Rubinstein, Igor Stravinsky, Nadia Boulanger, Leonard Bernstein and James Levine traversing its hallways.  It counts André Watts, Philip Glass, James Morris, Hilary Hahn, Cyrus Chestnut, and Tori Amos among its illustrious alumni.  In 2017 alone, three Peabody alumni were Grammy Award-winners.  Current faculty includes leading artists such as Marin Alsop, Manuel Barrueco, Leon Fleisher, Denyce Graves, Marina Piccinini, and Kevin Puts.

Vision

Today, Peabody is in the unique position to build on its rich history of professional music training at the highest level, to develop a vision for the role of the 21st century musician in our society and the training required for musicians to meet the new realities, challenges, and opportunities of that role.  Peabody’s history, tradition, and pedigree, coupled with its forward looking view and willingness to challenge traditional assumptions, allow it to take on the real work of what it means to prepare artists for a world that is constantly changing.  Peabody’s vision for the future connects directly to its founding in the mid-nineteenth century as a cultural center for the region that celebrated the role of music, art, letters, and discourse.   

Four Pillars

To take this vision of marrying the old with the new, and to ensure that Peabody and Johns Hopkins University leverage their unique relationship and opportunities as the forty-year anniversary of their affiliation nears, Dean Bronstein and his colleagues at Peabody have cast fresh eyes on the institution’s potential for even more profound levels of achievement through development of the Breakthrough Plan focused on Four Pillars:  Excellence, Interdisciplinary Experiences, Innovation and Community Connectivity.

  • Excellence:  Peabody graduates should be among the most successful musicians competing for high-level positions as soloists, orchestra members, chamber musicians, and educators; they should emerge as the trailblazers and innovators in their respective disciplines and across disciplines, fully equipped with the skills needed to achieve the kind of community connectivity increasingly required of artists in contemporary society.   
  • Interdisciplinary Experiences:  Peabody can leverage its competitive position as a top conservatory within a world renowned research university through development of cross-disciplinary programs.
  • Innovation:  Peabody has now developed the new Breakthrough Curriculum that builds on the strength of traditional music training while breaking the mold in incorporating skill-sets required of the 21st century musician.  Innovation also means embracing music of our time, and taking a leadership role externally in a dialogue on the value of music and arts in society.
  • Community Connectivity:  Peabody is building strong and meaningful relationships within the region that will enable Peabody to better serve the community and at the same time instill in its students an understanding and enthusiastic embrace of the role they must play in communities as citizen-artists. 

While some of these objectives are continuing to be developed, there are critical initiatives that have already been advanced and lay the groundwork for future progress as the following update illustrates.

  • Excellence
    • Auditions for 2017-18 up 5 percent from 1,496 to 1,565 over a two-year period.  In addition, the number of URM’s (Under Represented Minorities) matriculated will increase as a percentage of student population from 8.5% to 9.8% over a two-year period.         
    • Implementation of first phase in new faculty contract and evaluation system rolled out over the past year as well as implementation of regular departmental external reviews.  Starting in 2017-18, a revamped faculty governance system will include enhanced faculty chair roles and a streamlined and more effective committee structure.  Planning for a multi-year contract and promotion system is also ongoing, with implementation planned for 2018-19.      
    • Key faculty appointments include Marin Alsop as director of graduate conducting; appointment of Midori and Eric Owens as distinguished visiting artists for 2016-17.  Key faculty beginning 2017-18 include renowned additions to the voice faculty, Elizabeth Futral, Tony Arnold and William Burden; clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein; and Thomas Dolby, leading the new Music for New Media program.  Additions to the composition faculty include Felipe Lara and Du Yun – winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in music.  In keeping with building a diverse faculty, 14% of new hires this year include URM’s.   
    • Multi-year Strategic Admissions and Recruitment Plan rolled out in Fall 2016 supported by market research analysis, new systems, rebranding and enhanced involvement of faculty.  Development of a new website with roll-out planned for 2017.
    • Announcement of Meyerhoff-Becker gift establishing the Peabody Institute Diversity Fund.
    • $500,000 gift from France-Merrick Foundation facilitated Phase I in $1.6M acoustical and technical improvements of Miriam A. Friedberg Hall led by renowned acoustician Lawrence Kirkegaard.
    • Peabody Symphony Orchestra’s first CD on Naxos conducted by Marin Alsop makes Top 25 Billboard Classical Charts; next Naxos CD with Marin Alsop and Leonard Slatkin for release in 2017. 
  • Interdisciplinary Experiences
    • Peabody Institute/JHU Medicine proposed Center for Music and Medicine is focused on musician wellness and non-invasive palliative uses of music to treat a variety of disorders; over 70 partners across JHU and JHU Medicine include healthcare providers, researchers, biomedical engineers, therapists, musicians and educators; plans underway for multidisciplinary occupational healthcare clinic and wellness center for musicians and dancers on the Peabody Campus. 
    • Peabody creates first-ever position fully devoted to research and study of musician wellness.
    • Peabody faculty receive Discovery Award for research on identifying music elements for Psilocybin research, and the impact of side-by-side singing on dementia patients and caregivers.
    • Dean’s Incentive Grants awarded for projects researching the impact of music lessons on Parkinson’s patients and the creative brain activity involved in improvisation.
    • Peabody partners with Carey School to make business minor available to Peabody students.
  • Innovation
    • Suite of on-line courses under development include remedial music studies in theory and history, musician anatomy, ESL, and on-line initiative focused on serving pre-college populations, with 15 course offerings expected online by 2018.
    • Pilot use of video technology in studio teaching.
    • Dean’s Symposium Series launched Fall 2015 highlights innovation & change in the music world.
    • Second year of Dean’s Incentive Grants for students & faculty awarded in 2016-17.
    • Expansion of Peabody’s new music “footprint” through hosting nationally-based New Music Gathering 2016 and launch of new Peabody ensemble Now Hear This in 2015-16.
  • Community Connectivity 
    • Baltimore school partnerships (e.g. Henderson-Hopkins).
    • Young Artists Development Series (YADS) partnership with El Paso Pro-Musica provides residency experiences for Peabody students, launched in 2015-16, expanded in 2016-17 to Mesa, Arizona.
    • Community performances (e.g. Light City, RiseBmore, UMBC, Walters Art Museum.)
    • Peabody “Pop-Ups” launched citywide in April 2016; Fall 2016 Pop-Ups include 31 students, 17 sites.
    • Musician-in-Residence new project places Peabody students in senior living facilities.
    • Launch of partnership with Young Audiences of Maryland in December 2016.
    • Tickets to all Peabody concerts made free beginning fall 2016, resulting in 23% increase in per-concert average attendance over last year to date at January 1, 2017.

New Directions

Peabody has a great history and opportunity to build on that history by reinvigorating its core work in the Conservatory.  Part of this has entailed rethinking our academic and financial model to ensure increased excellence, selectivity, innovation, diversity, and financial sustainability.  To advance this effort, four task forces were formed.

  • Peabody Curriculum for the Future Task Force
    • Charge: To oversee the review and revision of Peabody’s curriculum to ensure verbal communication skills, audience development, programming, community connectivity and career planning become integrated into the work of every Peabody student, relating it directly to their regular and essential everyday activities as musician/performers.
      • Status:  Final recommendations completed December 2016.  Implementation September 2017.
  • Reimagining Ensembles at Peabody Task Force
    • Charge: To explore and reimagine possibilities in a future ensembles program that strategically weaves together all ensemble experiences at Peabody in a context that prepares students for the wide variety of experiences they’ll encounter in professional life, and fits Peabody’s future ensemble needs. 
      • Status:  Final recommendations completed December 2016.  Implementation September 2017.
  • Faculty Governance Task Force
    • Charge: With recent revamping of the faculty contract system and an evaluation system now in place, the charge of this task force is to address the current faculty assembly and committee system found in the Faculty Assembly Constitution and Bylaws in order to ensure future faculty engagement in a way that is substantive, meaningful, transparent, and accountable. 
      • Status:  New governance model includes enhanced chair roles, new committee structures, and dean’s advisory council.  New bylaws endorsed in April 2017 by 96% of voting faculty.   
  • Peabody Diversity Pathway Task Force
    • Charge: to examine Peabody's current state of diversity with focus on under-represented communities and establish a long-term plan that addresses the diversity pipeline for students, faculty and staff, and in doing so, foster an ongoing conversation about the culture of diversity at Peabody and in the world of classical music.
      • Status:  As follow up to fall retreat of the Task Force, sub-committees were formed in three areas:  Pipeline and Student Recruitment; Curriculum & Programming; and Climate/Inclusion & Cultural Competency.  Each group is being co-chaired by a member of the administration, a faculty member and a student.  Faculty Diversity Plan in place.  Full plan by December 2017.

Breakthrough Curriculum & Ensembles Initiative Launch

Beginning in Fall 2017, the Breakthrough Curriculum will fully integrate entrepreneurship and artistic citizenship training into the traditional training for which Peabody is renowned. Peabody is using its rich history as the oldest conservatory in the United States to lead the way in new directions of professional music training and a new vision for how a modern conservatory can relate to the world around it. The Breakthrough Curriculum will infuse our grand tradition with new perspectives to create a model at the forefront of arts training in the United States. Students will develop skills in communication; programming, audience development, music entrepreneurship, and citizen artistry; while developing a digital portfolio with which they can propel their careers immediately upon graduation. In addition, instrumentalists will experience dynamic ensemble training that reflects the flexibility increasingly needed for success in the music world. Through four phases that we call EXPLORE, BUILD, IMPLEMENT, and LAUNCH, this new initiative will engage every student, undergraduate and graduate, in meaningful training experiences across these critical areas, always led by the guiding goal of excellence and musical accomplishment. 

A Sustainable and Vibrant Model

True sustainability requires thinking about program evolution from the perspective of the Four Pillar strategic guideposts of Excellence, Interdisciplinary Experiences, Innovation and Community Connectivity in the context of a sustainable academic-business model.  A five-year rolling model for FY18 through FY22 has been developed that builds on and expands the academic program with a focus on excellence, innovation, and moves Peabody to an enhanced position of sustainability. The following areas highlight components of the model.

  • Expansion of existing programs:  Selected Conservatory programs (e.g. voice, composition.)
  • Right-sizing existing programs:  To support a reimagined ensembles program as part of new curriculum.
  • Launch of new programs:  Breakthrough Curriculum, Dance BFA; New Media; Peabody Online suite of courses; proposed Center for Music & Medicine; Summer at Peabody.
  • Philanthropy:  Focuses on new philanthropy to expand the currently committed, but limited, donor base coupled with the need to balance increased annual operating contributed revenues with endowment.

 

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