The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music emerged from the formidable challenges of 2021 as a stronger, healthier and more inclusive organization than we were pre-pandemic. This was no small feat.
In many ways, the challenges of 2021 were more complex than those of 2020. We operated in person throughout the year, adhering to a set of constantly shifting safety protocols. We grappled with the pandemic’s devastating fallout for many of our school- and community-based partner organizations. We asked even more of our faculty and staff, who had already moved mountains in 2020, to support our abrupt pivot to virtual music instruction and therapy.
For me, the moment that encapsulates 2021 at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music was our adult winter recital, at which I had the pleasure of serving as emcee. In 2019, this event took place in person. In 2020, it took place entirely online. In 2021, it was a glorious hybrid event: dozens of masked, vaccinated students, teachers and family members gathered in our concert hall, while others joined in online.
The recital featured live performances from the Concert Hall as well as from students’ homes via Zoom. Others submitted recorded videos ahead of time. Everyone participated in a way that felt comfortable to them. The result was remarkable for our students and our in person and remote audience. The logistics, planning and preparation involved were extensive.
As an organization, we have a tremendous amount to be proud of as we look back on 2021. Even so, I want to be clear: it has not been easy. We enter 2022 extremely mindful of the toll the past two years have taken and with an eye toward rebuilding and recovery.
One example of how we intend to act on this is our new policy of offering full- and part-time staff members paid sabbaticals. By ensuring that our people feel valued, energized and taken care of, we are making an important investment in our future.
Indeed, we have continued to invest in the future of this organization throughout the past two years. Even during the pandemic’s darkest days, we didn’t just try to survive. We drew on our wellspring of creativity and agility to develop innovations that would serve us and our community in the years and decades to come—regardless of what that future may hold.
We deepened and broadened our work around diversity, equity and inclusion, which was a clearly defined pre-pandemic priority that gained new urgency over the past two years. Committees involved in DEI work have met more than 70 times since 2019, examining our hiring practices, recruitment efforts, event outreach and repertoire through the lens of DEI.
This included both direct aid, through scholarships, and indirect aid, by connecting music therapy clients with government aid to which they are entitled.
Even the decision to transform our Annual Report into a digital document exemplifies our determination to keep challenging ourselves to innovate, reach more people and be more resource-efficient. I hope you enjoy the fruits of this experiment and welcome your feedback.
Reflecting on all we’ve overcome and accomplished over the past two years, it strikes me as no coincidence that we are an institution built around music.
Music elevates us, enriches us and allows us to tap into abilities we didn’t know we had. Music brings people together. The skills that music requires and fosters—resilience, flexibility, hard work, improvisation, connection—are the precise qualities that have enabled BKCM to flourish in challenging times.
Thank you for your continued partnership, as we continue to draw on these qualities to take on new challenges together.
In March 2022, BKCM’s Board of Directors met in person for the first time in over two years. This gathering to reflect on our progress, review our incredible achievements and chart our future felt like a homecoming. It was a time to collectively exhale and set our sights on an exciting road ahead.
The centerpiece of our meeting was BKCM’s 5-Year Strategic Plan Refresh, which we are rolling out in tandem with this 2021 Annual Report.
Our original 2019-2024 Strategic Plan was just under a year into its implementation when Covid hit. Suddenly we were faced with new needs, unanticipated challenges and unprecedented circumstances. Certain pre-Covid priorities gained new urgency while others were, by necessity, temporarily de-emphasized. Even so, the overarching objective of our original Strategic Plan—investing in the organizational capacity of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music—continues to be a priority.
Our Strategic Plan Refresh document, which I invite you to peruse, outlines how we are incorporating our key insights, emerging priorities and most valuable Covid-era adaptations to make BKCM a stronger, more inclusive organization.
As I hope you will glean from this Annual Report, we are already making great strides. We are revamping our hiring and recruitment practices to remove biases from the process and diversify our candidate pool. We have dramatically increased financial aid. We are developing plans to increase our presence in neighborhoods throughout New York City, to reach a broader swath of New Yorkers. We are also holding ourselves accountable, through measures including a rigorous survey process that allows us to routinely benchmark our performance.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to offer my sincerest gratitude to the remarkable people who have sustained and strengthened BKCM during two challenging years.
Thank you to our faculty and staff. Your creativity, dedication, passion and boundless talent shone through whether you were meeting students on Zoom, teaching from across a plexiglass divider or working behind the scenes to bring our programs to life.
Thank you to our families. You stuck with us through constantly shifting program structures and safety protocols, always showing up as true partners to BKCM.
Thank you to our broader community. We look forward to making music with you in 2022 and beyond, as we continue to experiment with a broader range of in-person, hybrid and virtual events and opportunities.
Thank you to our donors. Amid economic uncertainty, your generosity prevailed. Our total budget has grown to $5.8 million today from $3.8 million in 2019, enabling us to deliver quality music enrichment and music therapy to New Yorkers across the city.
Because of you, BKCM is a stronger and healthier organization than it was in 2019. We have a great deal of work ahead of us—but knowing what we’ve accomplished, I am optimistic and truly excited about where we’re going.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Henry Choi CHAIR
Robin Dull VICE CHAIR
David Sweeny SECRETARY
Tatyana Gershkovich TREASURER
Daniel DiPietro, Nicholas Doering-Dorival, Eric Friedman, Neil Gupta, Dede Lee-Moore, Mari Matoba, Margaret Meyers, Nancy Ziegler Nayar, Preetha Nooyi, Naomi Nwosu-Stewart, Erica Oquendo, Keith Byron Otuomagie, Konrad Payne, Sailaja Sastry, Frederick Tang, Pierre Vilain, James Weiss, Rob Wetstone
Sophie Balcoff, Vanessa Banigo, Scott Cantone, Richard Daskin, William Frick, Lynn Gaffney, Judith Helf, Rachel Hughes, Florence Hutner, Chiwoniso Kaitano, Elaine Kanak, Diana Kim, Andrea Knutson, Vijay Kumra, Bernadette Levandowski, Christopher Lloyd, Jerri Mayer, Vivek Menezes, Alan Ochoa, Anna-Lise Santell, Christine Scanlon, Russ Soper, Vanessa Treers, Man Wong, Tom Xu
Chad Cooper, Executive Director
Michaela Mechlovitz, Director of Administration
Rose Crichton-White, Director of Marketing and Development
Shameeza Chandarpal, Director of Finance
Uton Onyejekwe, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Julianne Carney-Chung, Director, Suzuki Program
Brian Drye, Director, Community Music School
Dorothy Savitch, Director, Music Partners
Toby Williams, Director, Music Therapy
The core values of our Community Music School—joy, community, perseverance, quality and creativity—were essential as we navigated the challenges of 2021. Throughout the year our faculty, composed almost entirely of active working musicians, instilled these values in our students during private lessons, group classes, ensembles and workshops taking place every day of the week. In 2021 CMS offered instruction in instruments including harp, tabla and tuba, and in genres ranging from jazz to classical to bluegrass. While we have a reputation for excellence and rigor, we remain a true community music school, welcoming students of all ages, abilities and skill levels.
BKCM is Brooklyn’s premier destination for the Suzuki method, a nurturing pedagogy based on the concept that all children have the ability to master the language of music, just as they master their home language. In 2021 our rigorous curriculum immersed 218 students, ages 3-18, in violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, flute and piano instruction. Our program encompasses private lessons as well as group classes and ensembles, and parents learn alongside their children—providing encouragement and support throughout their musical journeys. Students continually revisit repertoire, refining their skill by adding layers of artistry, mastery and musicianship.
BKCM is a national leader in music therapy, a psychotherapeutic practice in which clinically trained professionals work in relationships with clients of all abilities, using music for developmental and social-emotional growth. Our 20 credentialed music therapists work with clients at BKCM and 32 community outreach sites citywide. In 2021 the vast majority of our programming was once again in-person, while our quick pivot to virtual music therapy in 2020 permanently broadened our ability to reach immunocompromised clients and support our parents and faculty with rich online education and skill-building opportunities.
Music Partners places skilled teaching artists in public schools, senior centers, childcare centers and other community settings citywide. With offerings including percussion, recorder, musical theater, early childhood music and movement, band, strings, guitar, ukulele, chorus and songwriting, Music Partners works closely with local organizations to tailor programs and curricula to each site’s priorities and needs. Throughout 2021, many of our school and community-based partner organizations remained overwhelmed and significantly debilitated by the pandemic. To address this challenge and better position ourselves for the future, we worked to identify new ways of reaching students and families directly. This work is ongoing, with several exciting pilot programs underway.
We dramatically expanded our financial aid in 2021 to attract and retain students from a broad range of backgrounds and income levels, and to blunt the financial impact of the pandemic, raising almost $300,000. We directly (through scholarships and subsidies) or indirectly (by helping families access government aid) provided financial aid for more than 160 students and clients across our four divisions. In FY22 we are pacing to raise 60% more in financial aid than FY21!
We are in the midst of a thorough, thoughtful process to examine every aspect of our organization through the lens of DEI, with the goal of making BKCM a welcoming, inclusive home for all New Yorkers interested in high-quality music education and music therapy. This process is one of our most important undertakings.
We are reviewing our leadership, marketing, curriculum, hiring practices, recruitment efforts, individual program cultures and broader institutional culture as part of this effort. Students, parents, faculty, staff and our broader community are involved in this work.
While much remains to be done, in 2021 we made meaningful progress toward our goal of becoming a more diverse, equitable and inclusive institution.
|Total Earned Revenue and Public Support||$5,171,000||$4,577,000||$4,439,000||$3,853,000||$3,435,000|
|Total Operating Expenses||$4,793,000||$4,508,000||$4,038,000||$3,582,000||$3,132,000|
|Accounts Payable and Accurals||$188,000||$192,000||$213,000||$135,000||$113,000|
|Total New Assets||$2,042,000||$1,664,000||$1,595,000||$1,194,000||$924,000|
|Total Liabilities and Net Assets||$5,365,000||$3,391,000||$2,910,000||$2,797,000||$2,467,000|
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