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Muncie, Marion orchestras join forces

(photo courtesy of Orchestra Indiana)

MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The Muncie Symphony Orchestra and Marion Philharmonic Orchestra have joined forces to become Orchestra Indiana. Scott Watkins, who will serve as executive director, says the union grew from an idea to share conductors and resources.

Watkins said he and his board began thinking, “What if we shared a conductor? What if we shared the music together? What if we shared our staff, our resources, shared our musicians together and shared programs?”

Orchestra Indiana plans to operate as an umbrella organization for regional orchestras. As part of the organization, member groups will be able to share programming, streamline marketing processes and share leadership. The organization says the model will help other orchestras to be more operationally sustainable and allows for increased ticket revenue and donations.

“We’re an umbrella organization that can share those resources with many different orchestras,” said Watkins. “We have that expansion opportunity, but we’re starting together as Marion and Muncie. And together, we can unify the people through the power of music, and that’s the greatest thing ever.”

Orchestra Indiana will operate with a single governing board with representation from both the Muncie and Marion boards.

“We had a meeting and a really good discussion about pulling the two orchestras together,” said Marion Philharmonic Orchestra board member Bill Reece. “And Scott talked a lot about the unifying power of music, and through unity comes strength. And if ever there’s a time that we need strength in the arts, it’s today.”

The organization says the Marion and Muncie communities will have more concert choices as a result of the union.

“Music is a unifying power,” said Watkins. “It unifies people and gathers people together into a shared experience. One thing we wanted to do is share that—gather more people together, go into new communities and new neighborhoods, and unify people, share that music with people in other communities.”

Orchestra Indiana’s premiere season will begin in September with six concerts.