CROWDSOURCING a Musical — About, by and for — the US Nonprofit Sector
Why do this?
In consulting, and conversing with organizations from A to Z, advocacy to zoos, faith based safety net services to cultural facilities focused on STEAM, LGBTQ + programming, youth to seniors, attorney networks to affordable housing — there are stories to be heard and lessons to be learned. Our nonprofit sector is deeply embedded in community — rich with compelling human narratives that can truth-tell, challenge, inspire, and better yet — ground us in the realities of the human condition.
Engaging in these work experiences and various conversations have led to a couple of thoughts:
- We need a soundtrack, as these are difficult times.
- Nonprofit folks are creative, curious and have an array of talents — including musicality.
- Storytelling is powerful.
- Collaboration is fun.
So all this led to a directive — we can and should crowdsource a musical about, by and for the US nonprofit sector. So here we are.
You may still be wrapping your head around this. Here is a list* of what has been done with creative crowdsourcing before. From science initiatives to journalism projects to gaming efforts — anything is possible. Why not us, now, this?
STARTER NARRATIVE OVERVIEW
Our assumption is that it all begins with characters. And a journey. And something at risk. And music that conveys the emotions, the struggle, the journey.
Getting a grant, is all of that. It can be different, dependent upon the context and the cast of characters, but frequently in the NGO sector for all of us, the effort is fraught with drama. We want to capture that experience, the dialogue, those dynamics in this piece.
And there are many character dynamics to explore. Below is a starter list of potential characters to prompt your submissions. Join us, please write a song for one of these characters, and submit your offering. We will curate and begin posting selections.
From that, and from the collection of other submissions, we will attempt to build a storyline.
Please know that we are open to the evolution of the character profiles and are attempting to prompt, do not want to be overly prescriptive relative to this collective effort. In short, more than willing to adapt, collaborate, evolve.
So, curtains up, let the prompts begin.
POTENTIAL CAST OF CHARACTERS
He is thin, middle aged, and has been on and off the street for many years. He is stable, but vulnerable and interacts with the Staff as an advocate and is occasionally invited to Board meetings when there is a large organizational planning session. It is a bit of a mystery as to how he lost his self-reliance.
Fit, trim — she oozes confidence, wealth, intelligence. But perhaps not emotional intelligence. Given that she was successful in one area, well, she is determined to be sharing her skills with the non profit sector. She listens — as she is self-aware enough to know that she must appear to do that. But she is always prepping for her next profound offering of thoughts and words.
AMY, ELECTED OFFICIAL
Effervescent, social, outgoing. She is interested in people, but also very ambitious and struggles to maintain boundaries, to not work in her historical scattershot ways. She has some family members with an array of personal issues, so is sympathetic to the challenges individuals in the community may face, but is busy moving forward in her career aspirations.
Matt, NGO LEADER
In his 30’s, a bit out of shape, he is disheveled. And he works hard. He is passionate about the work, his Staff. He can be compelling, assertive and fundraises well. But fundraising is work for him, as not a natural extrovert. His soul is fed by the connections with clients, but he is smart enough to know that funding, and infrastructure — matters. He has probably not found the healthiest ways to manage his stress.
In a suit, circumspect, reserved and somewhat self-conscious, perhaps he has walked a golden path to his current position? All the right schools, internships, fellowships? He knows the world of money, but has never had sole responsibility for the realities of an organization. He is hard to read.
Focused, determined, fearless. She has a chip on her shoulder, something to prove, with a sharp, biting wit.
POSSIBLE STORY LINE, NARRATIVE ARC
So what could this story be about? It could be any one of the following scenarios:
- Organization is in financial trouble and it comes out in the media. In the midst of all this, the organization is seeking a grant to stabilize.
- Organization seeking a renewal of a grant and the foundation, along with the donor from the advised fund, comes to visit.
- A new initiative, spurred by the donor, sparks a visit to the organization. She is a small government advocate, and believes with her money, and an NGO, she can save the world.
POTENTIAL SPECIFIC SCENES TO WRITE
- Grant-writing, making things up for a proposal. Conversation regarding data?
- Client interactions, outcomes. A family conversation about the work?
- Donor conversations with others, politicizing the services?
- Elected officials taking credit for everything?
- Journalists, only as observers. Not offering solutions?
- Health issues for Donor, Client — who has health care. Death and money?
- Substance abuse issues for not for profit Employee, one paycheck away from being a client?
CURRENT PREFERRED MUSICAL GENRES
So, we are looking for submissions informed by any of several musical genres — Rock, Blues, HipHop.
For Rock, think:
- Machina/The Machines of God and Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music by The Smashing Pumpkins
- We Will Rock You featuring the music of Queen, book by Ben Elton and Amanda Green
- Repo! The Genetic Opera by Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich
- American Idiot by Green Day
- Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark by Bono and The Edge 201
- Rockville 2069: A Rock Musical by Johnny Ray and Bruno Paiola
- School of Rock by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Glenn Slater and Julian Fellowes
For R&B, Blues, think:
- Motown The Musical: Playwright: Berry Gordy. Adapted from, To Be Loved
- After Midnight: Playwright: Jack Viertel Lyricists: Jimmy McHugh, Harry Carney, Ben Pollack, Henry Nemo, More Composers: Jimmy McHugh, Harry Carney, Ben Pollack, More
For Hip Hop, think:
So, we gracefully ask that your submissions fall into these broad categories so we can build a continuous musical theme.
Hopefully you feel prompted? Without feeling prescribed? We want you to create and contribute. And we want to build this into a complete project so a roadmap seemed required. We are in the midst of conjuring up specific scenes with the thinking that such a prompt might also be helpful.
We welcome feedback, questions.