You joined the LA Phil as Chief Philanthropy Officer in February of 2020, right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and California’s Shelter-in-Place orders. What are you most looking forward to once we resume normal operations?
I started on February 18th, 2020, and in less than a month, we were sheltering in place. It is no surprise that – in terms of what I’m looking forward to most – is being able to listen to live music. And meeting everyone! Not only our audiences and patrons, but quite frankly our staff, my colleagues – and with all that comes experiencing the energy around live music.
You’ve spent much of your career leading fundraising efforts for environmental and conservation organizations. What inspired your transition to the arts nonprofit sector?
As you know, raising money is not an easy task because there are so many worthy causes and organizations all over the world. For me personally, I must fundraise for something I really believe in. The two things that matter most to me are similar when I think of what they give back to communities, individuals, and the common good: all forms of music, and the environment. If you are looking for solace, you can find it walking on a beach or in a forest, but also by listening to beautiful music. I can be 100% enthusiastic and fearless about raising money for those things.
I loved working in conservation. The organizations I worked for really showed me both the US and the world. I would work on projects and meet people outside of LA, and even though I am a native Angeleno, over the last twenty years, I have felt like a stranger in my own city. But this is the Los Angeles Philharmonic – solidly based in LA and yet a global institution. For me, it felt like the right time and right way to reacquaint myself with my own city.
Why would you encourage someone to support the LA Phil with a gift?
The performing arts represent the soul of any city. If we didn’t have souls, we wouldn’t be human! When you think about what’s going on in our city, our country, and the world, music is accessible, and it heals; music brings people together and inspires us. Right now, we need to create a hopeful urgency that music can heal us, that is what I believe.
What are your greatest hopes for the LA Phil? What do you want to see us achieve?
I want us to continue to be a community resource. For everyone to be able to experience live music and what we have to offer, I would like us to somehow make sure that we dispel any myths and break down any barriers; to have an audience for Maestro Gustavo Dudamel to look out and see a wide range of ages, communities, and demographics. That would be so inspiring to him! He would think, “Wow. We’ve done it.”
Margie’s thoughts on LA Phil programming:
When you think about our programming, of course classical music will always be our core. But what I have observed is that Gustavo has introduced new, different kinds of music and composers to the LA Phil. Because of him, now, I am a big fan of Arturo Márquez – I love listening to his music and that of other artists from Latin America. I have been reintroduced to Duke Ellington’s music, and have now I heard it in a new way, which has given me a much deeper appreciation. And I love the music of Jessie Montgomery and listening to her speak about infusing her own persona and identity into her work. Sharing a curiosity for new music is amazing.
Do you have any words you’d like to share with our Friends of the LA Phil?
I had no idea how much I would dive right in and embrace all this incredible music. I want to share with our supporters how good it is for each of them to have found the LA Phil in a way that is meaningful to them. While I am still catching up myself, it is such a privilege to be with the LA Phil and to be able to share this privilege with everyone. It is a real honor.
I would not be doing my job if I did not say while ideas drive any organization, funding realizes those ideas. Private funding is really the currency that moves an organization’s mission forward. We have an incredible mission at the LA Phil, and I thank everyone for embracing it and continuing to support us. Right now, it is our loyal donors who are helping us through this time. If I had a million dollars, I probably would not have it because I would be giving it all away. But because I do not have it, I know I can raise millions of dollars for the things that are important to me; things I know I share with our supporters.