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The auxiliaries of the Kansas City Symphony were pleased to host the
44th Biennial AMSOV Conference from April 4 through 7, 2024

The theme of the 44th Biennial Conference was Listening and Learning: Volunteers Give and Gain.

Panel Discussions and Conference Sessions

The Conference certainly contained many opportunities for volunteers to listen and learn. Conference sessions included:

An opening panel discussion on Coordination Between Symphony Staff and Volunteers. This panel featured staff members from two symphonies as well as volunteers from two symphonies, discussing how symphony staff members and volunteers stay coordinated in two different cities with very different volunteer structures.

A panel discussion on Attracting and Retaining Symphony Volunteers.  This panel featured volunteers from three different symphony orchestras plus a symphony staff member, focusing on the process and procedure of attracting new volunteers to our symphony orchestras and how to keep them engaged.

A presentation on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in Volunteer Organizations.  In this section a speaker familiar with nonprofit organizations talked about DEI issues as they affect volunteer groups, and how we can all be better attuned to DEI issues.

A panel discussion on Leadership Training and Cultivation. This discussion focused on the issues of how to train the next generation of leaders of our volunteer organizations, and how to cultivate future leaders given the issues we all face today.

A final panel discussion on Life Beyond Fundraising.  What does your organization do when it no longer (or perhaps never did) raise funds for the symphony?  What other activities can you pursue in order to support your symphony orchestra, and what does staff and volunteer coordination look like in a non-fundraising environment? This panel discussion featured volunteer leaders from three different symphony with very different experiences.

In addition, each of the two Conference mornings featured Table Topic Discussions at breakfast in which Conference delegates, assisted by facilitators, addressed a variety of topics of interest to symphony volunteers, including technology, communications, membership, fund raising and leadership.

Award Presentations

A necessary but important part of the Conference was to present our Innovator Awards to three deserving candidates and Standing Ovation awards to four honored recipients. Here are photographs of a former AMSOV President, Mike Minor, presenting the Innovator Awards to our three deserving winners: The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Kansas City Symphony Guild, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Volunteer Association.

Fun and Entertainment

So did we have any fun?  You bet!  We enjoyed a welcoming reception on Kansas City's famed Country Club Plaza complete with a tour of local fountains and statues by a professional tour guide. We also attended a private reception at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts featuring a personal appearance by our music director, Michael Stern, and a performance of the Kansas City Symphony.

In addition, we had a lunch of Kansas City Barbeque and a presentation by Harry S Truman himself (of nearby Independence, Missouri).  Well, actually, an actor impersonating him.  We also enjoyed a humorous speaker during one of our luncheons and had a Celebration Gala to conclude the Conference, complete with a brief talk by a local jazz professor, group photos under a "Wanted" backdrop (such as an arrest at a Kansas City speakeasy during the Prohibition days) and then a concert of Kansas City jazz (that other kind of music for which Kansas City is famous) by a six-piece jazz combo.

A number of delegates also took advantage of our pre-conference Tours to local attractions such as the National World War I Memorial and Museum, the American Jazz Museum and the Steamboat Arabia Museum.

Top photos: Kansas City Symphony Music Director Michael Stern at our pre-concert reception at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.  In the right photo he is shown with Conference chair Don Dagenais and Conference co-chair Patty Bibler.  Bottom photos: The groups from Los Angeles and Dallas, pictured at our Celebration Dinner with a speakeasy theme.  Photos courtesy of Susan Newburger.

Right: Tour of the American Jazz Museum. Photo courtesy of Don Dagenais.

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