2023-2028 Strategic Plan


Since 1985, EMA has enriched the field of early music in North America by developing and supporting interest in the music of the past, so that it informs and shapes our lives today. The breadth of EMA’s membership–which spans professional performers, students, professors and educators, ensembles, presenters, instrument makers, amateur musicians, philanthropists, and many more–has positioned EMA to be an important advocate, convener, and promoter of early music throughout North America. Through its membership publications and activities, EMA supports the performance and study of early music and promotes public understanding of its potential impact on people and communities coast-to-coast.

Now in its fourth decade of strengthening the early music community, EMA is at a point in its history that warrants careful consideration of current and emerging programmatic priorities. COVID-19 brought many challenges for the music community, giving way to new ideas and formats, and more opportunities for EMA to amplify its online resources. Simultaneously, many nonprofits are re-examining their impact, centering strategic planning conversations around inclusion and equity. Since establishing its Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) Taskforce in 2019, EMA has been engaging in key conversations about how to further its work towards deepening its relevance to communities.

EMA embarked on a strategic planning process to capitalize on the strengths of the organization while addressing opportunities for growth. Led by an external consultant, the process began by listening to EMA’s stakeholders through interviews and online surveys. A Strategic Planning Committee of board, staff, committee, and task force members then outlined a series of strategic priorities that will shape EMA’s vision for the next five years. EMA’s Strategic Plan 2023-2028 prioritizes goals and objectives that reinforce the organization’s mission, vision, and values.

EMA’s mission is to develop, strengthen, and celebrate early music in North America by supporting the people and organizations that perform, study, and find joy in it, and by championing the contributions they make to the health and vibrancy of their communities.

EMA believes that early music provides valuable ways to understand histories and human cultures; that historically-informed performances provide important musical insights and experiences; and that all people and communities should have access to learning, performing and enjoying early music.

SPIRIT OF COMMUNITY: EMA commits to supporting early music communities, cultivating the joys and passions that inspire and connect our members and the field.
INCLUSIVE AND DIVERSE: EMA celebrates and embraces an inclusive and respectful dialogue, enriching and affirming our shared and diverse journeys in early music.
A THRIVING FUTURE: EMA models responsible stewardship, best practices, fairness, integrity, and meaningful attention to sustainability in our operations and governance to ensure that our organization continues to thrive for future generations.

Strategic Pillars

In an effort to bolster relevance and access, Early Music America has identified four strategic pillars that will guide its work in 2023-2028.

EMA’s board is committed to deepening its commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA). This includes continuing to diversify the voices at the table, such as: staff/board; task forces and committees; and members and scholarship recipients. EMA also has a duty to leverage its position to elevate and advocate for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and disability communities, and to spread awareness of the state of equity in the field of early music.

Summary of Goals:

  • Collect data on equity, both internally and externally
  • Remove financial barriers by examining fee structures for membership and the Summit, and through scholarships and awards
  • Reach underserved communities by supporting K-12 outreach, better promotion of EMA awards and scholarships, and through an increased presence in Canada and Latin America.
  • Promote a more inclusive definition of “early music”
  • Draft and disseminate Best Practices Guide

EMA has an impressive history of accomplishing a great deal with limited resources. However, if the organization is to make strides in bolstering relevance and access, it will need to build its organizational and financial capacity to do so. This includes examining and sustainably scaling staffing, diversifying EMA’s contributed and earned revenue portfolio, and remaining nimble to meet unforeseen challenges.

Summary of Goals:

  • Increase revenue via donations, grants, endowed gifts, and ads in order to offer more scholarships, awards, and programs
  • Add more staff to keep up with growth of the organization
  • Leverage personal connections in order to increase revenue
  • Develop case statement to better communicate with donors and stakeholders

As a membership organization, EMA has a broad range of professionals, experts, and supporters at its fingertips. As the organization seeks to deepen its commitment to advocacy, it must leverage the contributions of EMA members to increase institutional capacity. EMA should identify and promote more opportunities for members to get involved, exercise leadership, and otherwise become more actively involved in the organization.

Summary of Goals:

  • Increase member involvement in EMA, especially via the Summit and Early Music Month
  • Support the public-facing work of EPLC and IDEA
  • Engage with K-12 educators and provide curriculum resources
  • Keep members engaged with national arts advocacy

To expand awareness of EMA’s work and broaden its impact across potential stakeholders, it is essential that the organization refine its communications strategy. EMA will work to cultivate points of contact at every entry point of its constituencies. EMA will improve its communications strategies to amplify what the organization is already doing. Finally, EMA will identify ways to reach untapped pools of constituencies.

Summary of Goals:

  • Communicate clearly with members and the early music community about EMA’s mission, vision, values, and programs
  • Create headlines in EMAg and E-Notes in order to reach more people
  • Use the Summit to raise EMA’s profile, connect all of EMA’s constituencies, and encourage innovation in the field
  • Increase Spanish-language content

Stakeholders and funders interested in viewing the full strategic plan should contact Executive Director David McCormick at [email protected].

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