Matthew Hinsley Speaks at Oberlin
The classical guitar department at Oberlin Conservatory was inaugurated in the Fall of 1992. I was the first (and have been the only) teacher there. In my first class, there were only three students; one of them was Matthew Hinsley. Matt was a precocious and talented student who was multitalented and highly driven. After graduating Oberlin, he went on to get his MM and DMA at UT Austin. While a student there, he assumed leadership of the Austin Classical Guitar Society, now "Austin Classical Guitar." This organization, under Matt's leadership quickly grew into the largest and most effective guitar society in America and now is regarded as an industry leader in arts-oriented non-profits. Matt has written book on the subject and often consults for other similar organizations. His organization produces eight simultaneous concert series, all in greater Austin, runs an enormous guitar-education programming Austin schools, produces countless outreach concerts for children and various underserved members of the community, manages a schools curriculum and materials web portal, regularly commissions new works by composers, and generally collaborates with a dizzying array of local businesses and organizations in its pursuit of musical excellence and exposure for the guitar. He has won numerous awards for his public service in the organization and is a widely admired member of the Austin community. Over the course of this growth, Matt has learned a lot about fundraising and has become the most successful fundraiser in the American "guitar community."
Matthew Hinsley with Stephen Aron, 3/20/2015
Matthew was in Ohio this week to play and speak at the Massillon String Festival, a guitar event produced by his
, nearby, and I asked him to give a talk to Oberlin students. His presentation, "Art and Money," was presented with enthusiasm for the subject and the clarity one might expect from someone with Matt's list of accomplishments. He asked and remembered every student's name, referring to them by name throughout. (I was knocked out by this). The presentation was fully participatory, with Conservatory students (not just guitarists) responding to various challenging questions and thought provoking choices. Matt focussed first on determining your constituency--who you want to reach. He landed on the question of impact and stressed the importance of working to clarify and possibly expand your impact. In addition, he talked about several aspects of fundraising. He encouraged the student attendees to regard the current arts environment in America as one full of promise and opportunity, in stark contrast to the many negative pieces one can find all too readily in the press. He demonstrated unequivocally that a positive attitude and a people-oriented and community-oriented approach to the arts can be a winning combination. In all, the students were inspired and much enlightened as they left.
For me it was inspiring too, and of course a great delight to have Matt back in town. He contributed a recollection piece to my blog
. Check out his story--it is truly one of inspiration. Thanks, Matt, for spending your afternoon with us, and for your many contributions to the guitar in America!!