Raleigh Nonprofit Wants to Expand Access to the Arts

From the News & Observer...

When Jackson Cooper signed on as executive director of the struggling Chamber Music Raleigh in 2016, he knew he was in for a challenge. But his leadership and ideas, including a partnership with the North Carolina Museum of Art to host concerts, have helped boost the group, which has been bringing in musicians and showcasing local artists since 1941. Jackson, 23, who was on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list in 2016, shares his strategies and also his passion for instrumental music.

Q: You’ve said Chamber Music Raleigh, a nonprofit, was in debt and interest was waning when you came on board. What was going on?

A: We had an exodus of board members, and the executive director just up and left the organization. That scared a lot of people, and it didn’t look good for us. We lost the support of donors and audience members.

Q: How did you improve the situation?

A: It was a quick turnaround, but I went straight for programming and mission-driven fundraising – really getting people behind supporting the organization and talking about what the music means to them. We’re financially stable now and have the support of a lot of people in the community.

Q: Which artists have you brought in?

A: We hosted the Juilliard String Quartet and also a tribute to Leonard Bernstein and his son, Alexander. We invited pianist Lara Downes and musician Rhiannon Giddens to record a track for Lara’s album that’s coming out on Sony.

Bringing artists here doesn’t just raise the profile for us, it presents North Carolina as an epicenter for these great projects. You don’t have to go to New York or Los Angeles. ...

Q: What’s your goal for Chamber Music Raleigh moving forward?

A: I want more collaboration with community partners, connecting audiences from different walks of life, whether that’s dance collaboration or just partnering with an advocacy group to put flyers out at intermission. I want to show people that music and the arts are accessible. It doesn’t depend on education, age or income level to enjoy. ...
— Christa Gala - N&O
Brent Woodcox