We had the good fortune of connecting with Robert Reed and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robert, we’d love to hear about a book that’s had an impact on you.
The arts industry, in particular music, helps people in every community, in every state, and throughout the world. Music can connect with people’s soul and emotions. Music educates, entertains and empowers. Music (and the arts) is a perfect example of equity, diversity and inclusion. It doesn’t matter a person’s age, race, wealth/lack of wealth, gender identity or musical taste, music can reach everyone and has numerous times. Music plays a large part in soundtracks and creates emotions while watching movies (superhero, action, romance, comedy, horror and more). Church services, television shows, and radio broadcasts are just a few more ways that music is in our daily lives. I am in this industry today because music connected with me and empowered me to dream and then provided a road map to achieve those dreams. If it could empower a young, black, inter-city kid like me and make me the man I have become, it can help anyone in the world.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My career started as a fourth grader being bused to hear a school performance by The Louisville Orchestra. I had never experienced the arts prior plus grow up in an economically disadvantaged area. I was so moved at the performance that I walked into the band room the next day and asked if I could learn music. Fortunately, God blessed me with talent, determination and a good work ethic. Over the years, I was unable to overcome not having funds for private lessons, attending an arts high school, obtaining full scholarships for my bachelors and masters degrees in music from a major music conservatory, and being selected in a prestigious orchestra management fellowship program. My career in arts administration started in 1989. Over the next 31 years, I have been blessed to work in the industry that I love and that provides me the means to have a good life. Was it easy? That would be a definitive NO! As an African American, I had to withstand the ridicule because I dared to be different. I have had leading arts administrators tell me directly that i was not good enough and that I would fail. Executive search firms would not consider me for executive positions. Boards, musicians and staff members who made life challenging. I have face racism and much disappointment. No matter what I faced, I refused to be defeated and give up. I learned so many lessons along the way. 1) There are more than one way of doing anything. 2) Opportunity provides for growth. 3) As a steward of an organization, decisions are made on what is best for the organization and not what is my personal preference. 4) I don’t need to know all the answers. 5) Never stop believing and dreaming. I am grateful to be the Executive Director of the Plano Symphony Orchestra. The most important thing for me professionally is to make the Plano Symphony Orchestra the best organization it can be. No matter how challenging life during this pandemic is for arts organization, I will do all I can to move the Plano Symphony Orchestra forward.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Favorite Locals – Dallas Arboretum, Nasher Sculpture Garden, Dallas Arts District, and the Fort Worth Zoo Favorite Restaurants – Although I enjoy a good meal, I spend most days cooking from home. It is not because I am a great chef, but not a huge fan of going out to dinner alone. Restaurants in Addison/Plano I enjoy, Whiskey Cakes, Chamberlain’s Fish Market Grill, Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House, Fish Shack, Kenny’s Italian Kitchen, True Food Kitchen Plano and Henry’s Ice Cream Favorite Places to Hang out – Legacy West and the Shops of Legacy, Downtown Plano, and The Life Church-Dallas.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to Greg Patterson, PSO Director of Development, for making the connection between the two of us.