Fitter, Happier, More Productive

Tools of the Trade

Imagine a workplace where people are energised and motivated by being in control of the work they do. Imagine they are trusted and given freedom, within clear guidelines, to decide how to achieve their results. Imagine they get the work/life balance they want. Imagine they are valued according to the work they do, rather than the number of hours they spend at their desk.

Introduction to The Happy Manifesto by Henry Stewart, CEO, Happy Ltd.

 

Work Better: The Happy Manifesto

What makes a workplace a happy one? Is there a recipe that can help to get it right? That’s what Henry Stewart set out to uncover in the Happy Manifesto, a workplace management handbook largely based on his experience developing his own company. Happy Ltd. started in 1998 as an IT training provider and now also provides individual and organisational development.

The 2013 book (available for free as a pdf) is full of tips on change management backed up by examples from Happy and other companies, ranging from hiring and firing to corporate volunteering, giving feedback, coaching and internal communications. It’s not just about flexible hours or more office parties: it’s about creating and maintaining an organisational culture where people are put first, hierarchical assumptions challenged and decision-making processes revisited.

The foundational value is trust: this implies expecting the best out of people, creating a no-blame culture that celebrates mistakes as steps in the learning process and hiring for attitude and potential (not solely on the basis of qualifications). Openness of information, transparency in the decision-making process, freedom to find the best way to achieve goals are other great principles to ensure that work is a fair and enjoyable environment.

Outside the workplace, opportunities to create a social impact – for example through corporate volunteering – are mutually beneficial to the community and the company, as staff get to learn new skills through giving time to their chosen projects. Long hours should not be seen as a sign of commitment but rather a symptom of poor time management; this shift in attitude can help both achieve a healthy work/life balance and improve productivity.

Stewart’s final tip is to select managers who are actually good at managing other people, and to create other rewarding senior positions for people who are good at their job, but not so with people. Happy Ltd. employees get to elect their department heads and can also choose themselves their direct line manager.

 

Business Innovation in the Arts

Transforming the structure and culture of an existing organisation can be a long, introspective and experimental process that requires a strong leadership drive. Mission Models Money’s 2010 report, Capital Matters, which investigates the future of funding and financing in the arts, links successful business models to creative, flexible and entrepreneurial organisational mindsets.

One of the key case studies presented in the report, Battersea Arts Centre, is a performing arts venue that has set itself the mission of “inventing the future of theatre” – which also implies reinventing the way they operate as an organisation. BAC’s radical structural transformation is driven by a mission-led and project-based approach, with constant prototyping and evaluation – what they call ‘scratch’ – as their underlying philosophy. For example, the production, technical and operational management teams are now joined up to form a “strategic programming team” that bypasses departmental divisions and can be reconfigured flexibly to respond to project needs. Budget management is everyone’s business and income generation is seen as a creative endeavour, on the model of a social enterprise. Their innovations are detailed on their website, from restoring the building – a Grade II*-listed Victorian former Town Hall – to presenting work-in-progress, supporting young producers, developing a collaborative touring network across the UK and empowering young people to turn their ideas into reality.

MMM describes BAC as “a living experiment in business innovation”, and the factors and values that enabled the organisation to transition to a new model resonate with the Happy principles: shared ownership, continuous learning, personal growth and collective innovation. One of the objectives of the process was to “reduce high levels of overworking among current staff”, and two other examples in the case point towards innovative people management and staff satisfaction:

  • Interns are being replaced by Apprentices who rotate through different activities within the organisation as a way of building capacity and matching aspirations and opportunity;
  • All staff are responsible for customer care no matter where they are in the building or the hierarchy and the front of house welcome is valued very highly.

 

Resources for Change  

Funding cuts, digital developments, changing audiences: there are many reasons for arts organisations to try not just to stay in the game, but to be truly innovative in the way they operate. As noted in the Capital Matters case study,Battersea Arts Centre changed their operational mode without using external consultants: staff and board members were committed to finding and implementing answers themselves. There’s plenty of self-help available out there, and I’ve listed a few resources below to learn, plan and implement.

Background Learning and Happiness Survey

Happiness is high on the agenda of the new economics foundation: they have developed the Happy Planet Index as one of the first global measures of sustainable well-being, to supplement traditional rankings by GDP with data on life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint. They’re also conducting research on well-being at work and its correlation with efficiency. They have produced an online Happiness at Work Survey that can be tried out for free (and starts at £6 per licence for business use), as well as an accompanying literature review report that informed the survey and provides the theoretical and statistical background on well-being at work.

Peer Organisational Development Network

Mission Models Money is currently running re.volution, “a peer learning network which aims to radically reconfigure business & organisational development support for cultural and creative practice in the UK”. While staff well-being is not an explicit goal of the network, innovative thinking in organisational culture, governance and business model is: a different angle for the same outcome. Peers are expected to offer up to three days of their time per year to share their expertise and assist fellow peers across four key themes: renewing the mission;reconfiguring the business model;revising the approach to money; and developing leadership, culture and values – a cross cutting theme that supports all the others.

Leadership Training for the Arts

To respond to this last need, the Clore Leadership Programme has been running since 2004, offering subsided short residential courses to develop leadership skills as well as year-long fellowships for about 25 individuals a year. The sought-after fellowship includes residential courses, mentoring and a 3-month placement in an organisation very different from the Fellow’s usual working environment. As Clore programmes aim at developing leaders, selection is based on attitude and abilities, rather than proven experience.

A Problem Shared…

Tools of the Trade

Arts organisations use all sorts of office settings, from small and casual bolt-holes to grand, more formal venues. Physical environment clearly influences productivity and mood of the team, so space and resources need to be adequate.

Unfortunately that’s easier said than done, with rent taking such a big chunk out of a company’s budget. But there’s another way to look at the question of space for arts organisations: rent could be a good investment in a mutually beneficial creative environment, so that a building becomes an active player in a particular city’s cultural ecology.

Co-working, shared workspaces and cultural hubs are on the rise because they solve problems. For example, a hot desk at Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation (known locally as CSI) starts at CAD75 a month – and comes with a business address, mail delivery, 24/7 access and shared services such as free wifi, free coffee, cheap printing and meeting rooms. This can offer a low-cost, temporary solution for an organisation trying to bounce back after reductions in income.

The venue management publishes open source toolkits, incubates projects and operates a crowdfunding platform. They also fix the wifi if it goes wonky and remove those pesky paper jams.

And for added value, members get to be part of a thriving community of freelancers and entrepreneurs, both not-for-profit and for-profit, from a variety of sectors. An internal communications system, networking events of all types and sizes and a big communal kitchen allow members to constantly exchange services, contacts and ideas.

CSI started with 14 founding tenants in 2004 and now has three locations in Toronto and one in New York, so it’s clearly working. It’s a social enterprise that acts as a community enabler, not a commercial landlord draining away resources.

The management team publishes open source toolkits, incubates projects, runs a micro-loan fund and operates a crowdfunding platform. They also fix the wifi if it goes wonky and remove those pesky paper jams.

There are other models out there, other ways to turn office rent into community investment. Also in Toronto, 401 Richmond is a 200,000 sq ft historic warehouse renovated under the principles of eco-restoration and openly inspired by Jane Jacobs (‘Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings; new ideas must use old buildings’).

Current tenants include over 140 cultural producers and micro-enterprises: 12 galleries, artists, designers and architects, a music shop, a bookshop, many arts festivals and environmental and civic agencies.

The management company, Urbanspace, organises tenant-led Nuit Blanche events and open studio days, and services include an arts-based childcare centre, a friendly café and a luxuriant rooftop garden. Here too, the community is based on shared values, and tenants are selected – from a long waiting list – to contribute to the creative mix.

Still in Toronto, Artscape, a registered not-for-profit organisation founded in 1986, manages several buildings that offer affordable live/work studios for artists, offices for arts and civic organisations, and performance and exhibition spaces at a discounted rate for charities.

They have also developed models and tools for creative placemaking. The latest Artscape building, a 75,000 sq ft renovated primary school, hosts a wide range of tenants, including artists and musicians, a large multidisciplinary arts festival, a youth-focused grant-making organisation, a world music promoter and a few more in between. The hallways and stairwells – nearly 10,000 sq ft over three floors – are used as exhibition spaces, and an independent café has set up shop on the ground floor.

Open studios at Artscape Youngplace Opening  Photo- Garrison McArthur Photographers

These three examples in Toronto have strong links: one of the founders of CSI is the president of 401 Richmond, who was in turn inspired by Artscape. All took time to develop and mature, which is why they have deep roots in the local cultural ecology.

Creative placemaking, connected networks and sustainable platforms can enable artists and arts organisations to adapt to a changing environment.

If you’re thinking of pooling resources to save money and find creative synergies, existing models are there to provide ideas and inspiration, and they tend to share openly their history and principles.

They’ve enabled and inspired countless projects on their home ground, and I’m hoping that these insights will be useful to cultural innovators in other cities and countries.

This article was originally published in International Arts Manager.  

Sustaining Great Art

Tools of the Trade

I have no idea how Julie’s Bicycle got their name but I know what they do: they help arts and creative organisations to become sustainable. Or in their own words:

Julie’s Bicycle is a not for profit organisation making sustainability intrinsic to the business, art and ethics of the creative industries.

Founded by the music industry, with expertise from the arts and sustainability, Julie’s Bicycle bridges the gap between the creative industries and sustainability. Based on a foundation of peer-reviewed research, we sustain creativity, enabling the arts to create change.

We work with over 1000 arts organisations across the UK and internationally, large and small, to help them measure, manage and reduce their environmental impacts.

They’re unique in their deep knowledge of both the arts & culture sector – their founder and CEO Alison Tickell comes from the music scene – and environmental standards and best practices.

They’ve recently been working with Arts Council England as a strategic partner to create indicators and tools to help arts organisations – for now, National Portfolio Organisations and Major Museum Partnerships – report on their environmental impact  – and they just co-published a nice report to draw the lessons from the first year of this project.

In 2012, Arts Council England became the first arts funding body in the world to embed environmental sustainability into the funding agreements of its major programmes. Arts organisations are an integral part of the fabric of their host cities and regions, and environmental sustainability is now, as Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, puts it, “both (an) ethical concern and economic imperative”.

Or to quote Anthony Sargent, General Director, Sage Gateshead:

There is no more essential task for us all – as citizens and as companies – than to start to live within the sustainable means of our planet.

Julie’s Bicyle has designed free tools and resources to support arts organisations in evaluating and reducing their environmental impact. It also provides useful case studies spanning a range of settings and scales:

Some interesting insights from the report:

Engagement and Impact

  • In the first year an outstanding 90% of all 704 organisations engaged in some capacity with the environmental reporting programme. These results represent the single biggest dataset from arts organisations globally.

  • In a survey, nearly 90% of funded organisations agreed or strongly agreed that “Arts Council Environmental Reporting has made or can make a positive difference to the arts sector as a whole”.

Size, shape, readiness and artform really do matter

Significant differences in reporting levels and reliability were observed across settings and artforms. Unsurprisingly, it is easier for cultural buildings and office-based organisations than for touring and outdoor events to assess their environmental impact; but the ability to report is also affected by the support and cooperation (or lack of) of landlords (for small organisations) and local authorities (for all).

In terms of artforms, “levels of engagement and reporting have generally been higher for theatre, Major partner museums  and visual arts, compared with literature, dance and music. Museums and theatres in particular have already been targeted by specific environmental initiatives, something which has not been the case for the other art forms”.

There is an appetite for learning through exchange and collaboration

A number of groups are already demonstrating the benefits of collaboration, including:

London Theatre Consortium, 13 theatres working to develop strategic, creative initiatives and share expertise and resources, including a sustainability strand.

Manchester Arts Sustainability Team, 13 arts organisations, venues and events, collaborating to support their own sustainability goals and Manchester’s climate change strategy.

Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues, 10 venues working to share learning and maximise their positive environmental, social, cultural and economic impact, with different workstreams, including a Green Campaign and Capital Investment Strategy which explores longer-termsustainable capital projects for the group

Royal Opera House, Royal National Theatre and Royal Albert Hall, who entered into a three-year contract for collective energy procurement known as ‘The Arts Basket’ provided by the energy broker Power Efficiency in 2012. Other organisations have since joined and benefits include reduced costs, better risk management and longer-term price certainty on a green tariff supply.

There is a clear need for a more differentiated strategy for year two and beyond

This is a significant outcome: defining categories of organisations based on their access to data – with relevant environmental indicators.

“Smaller organisations, offices and events (are) unable to provide meaningful energy and water data, and for organisations whose primary activity is touring and events, (…) reporting on other sources of environmental impact, e.g. transport and waste, may be more meaningful.”

Findings and recommendations from the Year 1 report will inform future funding agreements (2016-2018), including “continu(ing) to ask organisations to collect data and to develop policies and action plans that improve environmental performance and carbon emissions” as well as “ensur(ing) that what we ask is proportionate, as part of a differentiated strategy.”

Creative Employment

Tools of the Trade

Last spring’s call for (part-time, unpaid) interns from the Marina Abramovic Institute elicited some creative responses – and some more cautious comments.

Advice

Internships are commonly understood to be short-term practical work experiences, and should ideally be a win-win situation: the intern gains experience, skills, contacts and a general sense of their chosen industry; the employer gets an enthusiastic and committed assistant, perhaps even a future collaborator.

The problem when they’re not paid is that they create an unfair playing field, as Intern Aware – a UK-based campaign against unpaid internships – explains in this video:

On the Huffington Post UK, unpaid internships are blamed for widening the ‘elitist gap’ and likened to a form of modern day slavery; the BBC is reporting that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is targeting 200 employers who recently advertised internships to ensure they are paying the minimum wage; and the Guardian is regularly reporting on sectorial practices around unpaid internships and the culture of privilege they reproduce.

On the militant front, Internship Anonymous features some rather revolting personal stories, and the Internship Manifesto for the creative industries (by Toronto-based Sam Johnstone) is making some powerful points with its Intern Charter of Rights + Freedom, of which I’ll quote the last two ones (click to read the full manifesto):

Manifesto

Practices and regulations differ for each industry and country, but rules on compensation are not always enforced and are too easily circumvented by playing on the blurry frontier between volunteer and intern. Intern Aware addresses this issue:

If you’ve got set hours, tasks and responsibilities then you almost certainly count as a ‘worker’ and have a right to be paid. There are a few exemptions, for charities and people who are interning as part of their study.

In the cultural sector, there are now other ways to get one’s foot on the career ladder. The three initiatives featured below are helping out young people and emerging art workers to explore and gain experience in their dream career; they also support arts organisations by enabling them to expand their capacity; and they benefit the ecology of the sector at large, by nurturing the next generation and ensuring that skills and knowledge are continuously shared and improved.

Creative Employment Programme

The Creative Employment Programme is a £15m fund to support the creation of traineeships, formal apprenticeship and paid internship opportunities in England for young unemployed people aged 16-24 wishing to pursue a career in the arts and cultural sector.

It provides part-wage grants to employers who apply through a formal competitive process, with a rolling deadline every 5 weeks. The grants are provided up to the following amounts:

  1. Up to £2500 per paid internship based on a minimum of 26 weeks of employment at 30 hours per week. Wages must be paid at National Minimum Wage or above.

  2. Up to £1500 per Apprenticeship based on a minimum of 12 months at 30 hours per week. This is if the employer chooses to pay National Minimum Wage for Apprenticeships (£2.68 an hour).

  3. Up to £2000 per Apprenticeship based on a minimum of 12 months at 30 hours per week. This is if the employer chooses to pay National Minimum Wage or above for the age of the apprentice.

The scheme is funded by Arts Council England until March 2015 and run by Creative and Cultural Skills. The two organisations have co-published a “Guide to Internships in the Arts” clearly stating that “interns” that fall under the ‘worker’ status must be paid at least the minimum wage. And if interns “have a clear set of objectives, a specific role and formal duties, and (are) expected to help the arts organisation to achieve its aims”, then they are quite likely into this category.

The scheme also promotes a chart of Fair Access Principle, developed in collaboration with The Creative Society (see below), that articulates the difference between Volunteers, Work Experience, Internships and Apprenticeships, and encourages employers to commit to the following general Recruitment Practices:

We commit to advertising all opportunities fairly, openly and transparently. We will publicise details openly and in a range of relevant places including the National Apprenticeships Service Vacancy Service and Jobcentre Plus, where appropriate.

We also commit not to request that applicants possess qualifications that are not relevant.

The Creative Society

Formerly known as New Deal of the Mind, the Creative Society is “an arts employment charity that helps young people into jobs in the creative and cultural industries”. It all started with an article in The New Statesman by founder and CEO Martin Bright, considering the effects of the cultural programmes of the American New Deal, such as:

The Federal Art Project conducted classes attended by 60,000 people a week and produced 234,000 works of art; the Federal Music Project gave 4,400 musical performances a month, with an average monthly attendance of three million people, and the Federal Theatre put on 1,813 plays. The Federal Writers’ Project produced guidebooks to the American states and nearly 200 books and pamphlets.

According to Britain’s leading expert on the New Deal, Professor Anthony Badger of Cambridge University:

The WPA was based on the principle that there was no point in putting unemployed writers to work digging roads. They were ridiculed at the time, and there were some ludicrous projects, but there were also some remarkable achievements.

The Creative Society conducts research and publishes guides and reports, campaigns for Fair Access to establish standards of recruitment,and runs event, projects and programmes, such as Right Futures, advising 16-19 interested in a career in music, film or design; Haringey Job Fund, subsidising jobs in the arts for 16-24 Haringey residents currently unemployed (and open to arts organisations based in any London borough); and This Is It!, a series of events across England for all paid interns and apprentices on the Creative Employment Programme.

The BBC Performing Arts Fund

The BBC Performing Arts Fund aims to seek out and support aspiring individuals and community groups who, for reasons of lack of existing support, personal background or circumstance, would not have been able to achieve their greatest potential without the Fund’s support or intervention.

Since its inception in 2003, the Fund has already awarded over £4m worth of grants, as well as offering mentoring and advice to help winners achieve their most ambitious goals. Previous winners have gone on to produce a Mercury Prize winning album, perform at the Glastonbury Festival, appear on Later with Jools Holland and land starring roles in the West End.

Each year the Fund’s work focuses on a different art form – music, dance or theatre – and grants are distributed via two schemes, one for individuals and one for community groups.

The charity is funded through revenue from the voting lines of BBC entertainment programmes such as Fame Academy, Over the Rainbow and The Voice.

The focus for 2013 is Community Theatre, and 19 Fellows and 58 community groups have just been selected to receive grants (£10,000 for individuals, £500 to 5,000 for groups). The Fellows are emerging artists, playwrights, producers and director from across the UK, placed for several months with a host organisation on a bespoke work experience programme. The community groups’ projects are equally varied, from Team Oasis in Liverpool who plans to “promote community togetherness, inclusion, integration; and above all, acceptance within the local Liverpool community” to the Duns Players who “want to improve their vocal and movement skills. These skills would be used with school children and older people in two new projects next year”. An ongoing blog provides information about working in the performing arts, updates on funding schemes and themes, and follow-up interviews and features on past winners.

Summer Summary 2: Audience Experiences

Tools of the Trade

I’ve only managed to cover a few of my recent wonderful (and free!) aesthetic experiences in the first part of my Summer Summary, so I’ll just mention here quickly my visits to the Walker Art Gallery (Liverpool), the Tate Modern & Britain and the Whitechapel Gallery (London) – although I do intend to come back to my wonderful time at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao with the full-fledged post it deserves.

The second part is going to be all about the “working” side of my working holiday, but it’s not so much of a leap, because much of my work is actually concerned with the audience experience.

Part 2: The Audience Experience

The workshop: Growing Audiences for Jazz

One of the reasons for my summer(ish) European escapade was to deliver a workshop on audience development for NorVolJazz, a network of not-for-profit jazz promoters based in the north of England. My presentation is available online, and preparing it was a great way to reflect on what audience development means to me.

I started with a broad definition by Arts Council England, of which I like not only the multi-function approach (which suits my generalist nature), but also the distinction between audience development as a process (which is where most organisations stop) and ethos:

The term Audience Development describes activity which is undertaken specifically to meet the needs of existing and potential audiences and to help arts [and cultural] organisations to develop ongoing relationships with audiences. It can include aspects of marketing, commissioning, programming, education, customer care and distribution.

Audience development can focus on finding audiences outside the mainstream –i.e. “new audiences” or “audiences from socially excluded groups”. Audience development also reflects the relationship with audiences that develops over time with a focus on the long term.

As a process, audience development employs a range of marketing tools such as research, publicity, communication and customer relationship management.

As an ethos, audience development places the audience at the heart of everything the organisation does.

(source: Wikipedia / Arts Council England)

The last sentence is particularly relevant to the small organisations and independent promoters I was talking to: it’s about a reversal of perspective, from perceiving audience development efforts as an extra – and optional – financial or time cost to thinking first and foremost about people who come – or don’t come yet – to the gig: they ARE the gig.

Of course, it’s easier said than done, and it takes time and commitment, but the mistake would be to think that if audiences don’t come, it’s because you lack money or special skills. Sure, it might help – but the key here is to adopt the audience’s point of view and to think through their complete experience, from the moment they hear about the gig to after they’ve left the venue. I approached this in my workshop with a narrative structure, getting participants to think about how to “make them come”, “make them stay” (a personal worry, with jazz) and “make them come back”. This all goes well beyond the music: knowing in advance about the length of the sets or when the kitchen closes, for example, could make all the difference in the decision to come or not.

Going further, this 2009 series of briefings on audience development commissioned by East Midland Jazz was developed to be used directly by small promoters, avoiding jargon and helping out with decision-making. Although it is based on a specific regional audience and offer, most of it can be used as a starting point for a reflection on motivations and barriers, developing younger audiences, persuading more people to come to jazz more often and pricing.

In 2011, US-based Technology in the Arts published a guide called Online Audience Engagement: Strategies for Developing Jazz and Classical Audiences, also very practical and action-oriented, with some interesting case studies to provide best practice examples.

The Meeting: The Experience Business

Looking for inspiration for my workshop, I researched a few different case studies, some of which I’ve summarised in a previous post about innovative audience development initiatives for classical music. I also stumbled upon a goldmine of tips and insights when I discovered The Experience Business, a UK-based arts consultancy that has truly taken to heart the audience-centered ethos advocated by Arts Council England.

I met with founder and director Lisa Baxter just between her lecturing and workshop tour in Australia and the Mindcamp Creativity Conference in Canada that she attends regularly. Her approach is resolutely boundary-crossing, breathing fresh life into arts marketing by drawing from design thinking and user experience design, applying advanced creative facilitation methods and working with full organisations (and not just the marketing or senior executive team).

On her website, she’s sharing the books and quotes that influence her thinking, as well as this video by Tedde van Gelderen, CEO of Akendi, that presents what Experience Design is and can do:

The Book: The Audience Experience

Fittingly, Lisa Baxter contributed a chapter to a book that I had ordered just before meeting her, The Audience Experience: A Critical Analysis of Audiences in the Performing Arts. Written by a wide range of arts research academics and practitioners, it aims at addressing the following question: “What are audiences thinking, feeling and doing as a product of their engagement with arts practices?” It is redefining the now-ubiquitous term ‘audience engagement’ as “audiences that are engaged in both experiencing and remembering”, hence going much, much further than the traditional bums-on-seats approach.

The chapters explore, amongst other topics, audience response to new trends in arts presentation, such as ‘Alternative Content’ (i.e. live streaming of a performance in a cinema, used for opera, theatre, ballet and music) (CH. 2, Barker); the influence of venues and settings in shaping the audience experience and participation pattern (CH. 4, Brown); new methodologies to understand in greater depth the meaning of performing arts experiences (CH 5, Foremand-Wernet and Dervin; CH. 8, Baxter, O’Reilly and Carnegie; CH. 10, Radbourne; CH. 11, Johanson); and the relation between playing and listening to music, or studying and watching dance, and its influence in shaping the audience experience (CH. 6, Pitts; CH. 9, Vincs).

It’s probably best to leave it to the audience to describe what the audience experience actually is, so here are a couple of quotes gathered through some of the book’s case studies:

What I love about audiences in the theatre is that collective surge that can sometimes happen. It’s not always palpable but there’s a sense of everyone moving forward, or of relief, or maybe of being uncomfortable, or feeling the next person next to you, reacting. It’s a reflection of the emotional character of what’s going on.

When you go to a live performance, it’s happening, it’s in the zone, it’s transcendent. You feel like you’re a part of something special: you’ve actually been present, you’ve borne witness to something.

And a final one from an audience member whose life might very well have been changed by a successful audience development campaign:

Wow, I have never given much respect or thought to this classical music genre, but this was actually very delightful music … Why haven’t I been introduced to this music before? … I have often been told that classical music is boring or not ‘great’ music. I’m disappointed that I let other people’s point of of view distort my taste in music … This music definitely changed my opinion on the genre, not to mention I will be listening to this stuff more than I have.