Voices Of The Arts: The LPO's James Boyd

Oct 12, 2013

Voices of the Arts, a series presented by NolaVie and WWNO — New Orleans Public Radio, explores the thoughts and visions of eight new arts leaders in New Orleans.

Through conversations we try to understand how they will engage with the arts and the artists in this already vibrant cultural community; how they view us; what their goals are for their organizations; and what big plans are on their horizons.

Today meet James Boyd, Chief Executive Officer of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. James obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Oregon and  a Master of Arts degree in clarinet performance from the University of Cincinnati. He has served as Director of Artistic Planning for the Tucson Symphony and Manager of Orchestra Operations for the Aspen Music Festival. He came to the LPO as Director of Artistic Planning in 2011, assuming the position of CEO in March 2013.

On New Orleans cultural life: I have lived in Ohio and Arizona and each of these communities has had a distinct profile, but nothing like this. It’s something this city embraces and the region embraces. In terms of work, it has meant positioning myself and what I do in a very different manner. You have to really listen in a deeper way than you would have to in another community where you can probably transplant ideas because they worked in other places. Well you have to throw that idea out in New Orleans. If it’s from someplace else, it’s no guarantee it will work here. New Orleans is a bit of a closed network in terms of the culture here. So as a newcomer to the city, certainly it’s not very easy to get in to certain doors and that’s why I rely on our Board members. But, honestly, I really have only experienced warm receptions and I think that’s due to the fact that everyone just loves the LPO.

On goals for the LPO: We’re actually at the beginning of a discussion of what we should be doing strategically. We have a unique format here with this orchestra with the musician governance model and, beyond just governance, their heavy involvement in all of our planning. One of the things on my list that I want to dig into this year with the orchestra is to re-examine that model. It’s an amazing model. I can’t imagine this orchestra without it. But I think we probably need to look at updating it for the century that we’re in and not living off certain constructs that were put into place 23 years ago that served the orchestra then but may not be as efficient now. Financial stability and growth of the orchestra: that’s always a goal.

On how to handle financial challenges: I think it’s first important to look at the fact that we’re not just focused on New Orleans. Yes, New Orleans is our home. But we are a regional orchestra; ideally we’re a statewide orchestra. Reaching into various communities that we do provides a base of support that other orchestras across the country don’t benefit from. We’re actually in good shape having a diversified basis of support.

On big plans for the future: We don’t have anything concrete yet, but our 25th anniversary is right around the corner — the 2015/2016 season — and that’s where we’re going to be spending a lot of effort this season. I don’t know what will be a part of it. Ideally, if we could, I would like to see this orchestra tour, whether regionally or something more ambitious than that.