Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras/Fédération des orchestres symphoniques de l'Ontario

Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras(OFSO)/Fédération des orchestres symphoniques de l'Ontario(FOSO). Provincial forum of orchestral entities, founded to help create a stable environment for orchestras in Ontario through discussion, the pooling of information, and the co-operative solving of shared problems. Eleven years of gestation preceded its 1963 founding. The need for such a forum was articulated first in 1952 at a meeting of representatives of Ontario community orchestras. Discussions continued in 1955, when an executive committee was formed with Lloyd Goodwin as chairman, and in 1956, when representatives of seven orchestras (Brantford, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, and St Catharines) met to establish objectives for the organization. Bertha Wright (St Catharines), was elected honorary president and Arnold Edinborough (Kingston), president.

Achieved only to languish, the new organization was revived by its members in 1963. A new board was installed that year with Larry Agranove as president, and it continued to be recognized in 1964 as the voice of Ontario community orchestras by the newly created Province of Ontario Council for the Arts (OAC). The council at that time encouraged individual orchestras to apply for grants through the medium of their federation. Accordingly, in 1964 briefs from 13 OFSO member orchestras were presented which prompted the council's first grants to community orchestras.

During the early years OFSO's affairs were managed directly by its board. Walter Ball, the first to hold the dual position of executive director of OFSO and OAC music officer, was succeeded in 1967 by James Norcop, and Norcop in 1968 by Robert Sunter. In 1970 the functions were separated. The council's music officer remained ex officio on the OFSO board, and the council provided OFSO with funds to support a Toronto office and hire its first independent executive director, Jan Matejcek.

OFSO conferences, occasional before 1966, and annual thereafter, were often of more than provincial significance. Matejcek had broached the concept of a national federation designed to serve Canada's orchestras as OFSO served Ontario's. OFSO invited representatives of Canadian orchestras outside Ontario to discuss the concept at its 1971 conference in London, Ont. This conference, at which 40 Canadian orchestras were represented, appointed a nationally representative steering committee which prepared the blue-print for the Association of Canadian Orchestras (ACO). Ratification took place in 1972, and Ezra Schabas was elected the first president. Kenneth Winters was appointed the first executive director of both organizations in 1971.

The provincial and national organizations were closely linked and maintained a joint Secretariat in Toronto, although each had its own board of directors. As a result of mutual concerns over the impact of reduced financial and human resources on Canadian orchestras, the two organizations officially merged in 1997 to form Orchestras Canada.

The OFSO newsletter, begun in 1969 as a mimeographed sheet in English, became in 1972 the bilingual The Orchestra Letter/Le Bulletin orchestral and, in October 1973, the OFSO-ACO periodical Orchestra Canada/Orchestres Canada, edited 1973-4 by Ann Hutchinson, 1974-5 by William Schabas, and thereafter by Jack Edds, until 1991 when he was succeeded by Ulla Colgrass. In September 1988 ACO and OFSO became officially bilingual.

OFSO, which was officially incorporated in 1977 and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1980, provided assistance to its member orchestras in developing skills in orchestra management through workshops in marketing, fundraising, administration, policy making, artistic concerns, and media, government, and public relations, as well as providing in-field consulting services to orchestras across the province.

At the time of the merger with the Associations of Canadian Orchestras, the OFSO represented some 80 orchestras, and actively lobbied in areas such as increased funding, arts in education, and employee wage protection. It has provided professional assistance in the development of boards, volunteers, management and administrative staff, and audiences, and has served as a communications link in the orchestral community.

OFSO held an orchestra management seminar annually 1979-88, and again in 1990, to consider all aspects of managing an orchestra, and in 1991 it arranged the first concert production workshop in Canada. Workshops for volunteers and conductors were also held, but by 1991 OFSO was no longer hosting annual or biennial conferences. The last of these was held in Kingston in 1987, replaced thereafter by an annual 'Day in June,' which combined a general meeting and workshops. ACO and OSFO also held (though not jointly), workshops in small business sponsorship.

OFSO received grants from the OAC and from the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Communications. Revenue was also received through donations, sponsorships, memberships (orchestras, individuals, organizations, corporations), and earned through publications, advertising, and workshops. The OFSO Secretariat had an information and resource centre to assist with advice on orchestral operations. The Youth Orchestra Committee, in liason with the Canadian Association of Youth Orchestras and the youth division of the American Symphony Orchestra League, organized a biennial Youth Orchestra Festival held in Kingston (1983, 1989), London (1985), Sudbury (1987), and Hamilton (1991).

OFSO presidents after Goodwin, Edinborough, and Agranove were Albert Jarvis 1965-7, Brooke Townsend 1967-9, Michael Davies 1969-71, Terence Wardrop 1971-3, Ian Grant 1973-5, Douglas Rishor 1975-7, E.R. Barrett 1977-9, Elizabeth Kovac 1980-2, Paul Robinson 1982-4, Dorothy Beckel 1984-6, John McDougall 1986-8, and Andrea Alexander 1988-90, succeeded by David Pearson.

The archives of the OFSO are currently deposited at the Archives of Ontario and Library and Archives Canada.

See also Orchestras; Youth orchestras

Publications

Schabas, Ezra. Ontario Community Orchestras: A Report for the Province of Ontario Council for the Arts and the Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras (Toronto 1966)

Orchestra Contact List annual 1973-5

Canadian Orchestras Concert Calendar, annual 1973-7

OFSO Orchestral Resources Guide (Toronto 1977)

Directory of Women's and Volunteer Committees (Toronto 1978-)

Goldie, Gordon L. Paying the Piper: A Fundraising Manual for Non-profit Organizations, (Toronto 1969, 1982, 1991)

Orchestra Resource Guide (Toronto 1983, 1986, 1988)

Youth Orchestra Resource Guide (Toronto 1983, 1986, 1991)

Graeme Page Associates. Artists and Entrepreneurs: A New Approach to Business Support for the Arts (Toronto 1990)

Joint Publications (with ACO)

Orchestra Canada/Orchestres Canada, newsletter, Oct 1973-

Directory of Canadian Orchestras and Youth Orchestras/Annuaire des orchestres et erchestres des jeunes canadiens, annual 1975/6-