ACG and Me: The First Years (part 2 of 3)

It’s Matt Hinsley’s tenth year as Executive Director of Austin Classical Guitar.  But his relationship with ACG actually began in the fall of 1996, 17 years ago.  We thought we’d kick off this year’s Changing Lives Fall Fund Drive with a few of Matt’s reflections.

Has ACGS or classical guitar changed your life?  Email your story to us today.

You can help!  Donate to our Changing Lives fall fund drive today. 

(Read Part 1 of this series: Before Austin)

The First Years 

I came to Austin to start my masters degree in classical guitar performance at UT studying with Adam Holzman.  I spent seven wonderful years with Adam and UT earning my Masters in 1998 and Doctor of Musical Arts in 2003.  Within months of arriving in Austin, my past caught up with me and I was handed the corporate documents, and the Board Presidency, of Austin Classical Guitar (ACG).

ACG was a wonderfully small organization with no articulated budget and operations resembling a small club.  There were monthly meetings featuring local teachers and players and the occasional guest artist.  I quickly learned that “Board President” was code for “chief volunteer in charge of most everything!” 

My first goal was to stabilize our programming, create a dependable articulated series (that would soon come to be called our “International Series”), and increase our rate of communication through a monthly snail mail newsletter.  Within months our ticket sales increased and our membership grew.  In just over a year we had more members than ever before!

In 1998 we added our Community Concert Series – 20 free concerts per year designed to “reduce or remove social, economic and geographic barriers to great music.”  It was that year that we began our relationship with the City of Austin.

From 2000 to 2003 I stepped away from leadership of ACG, but continued to run the Community Concert Series.  It was 2001 that the first iteration of our Educational Outreach program began at McCallum High School with 15 students.

About the time I finished my DMA in 2003, I returned to leadership as Executive Director at ACG.  A short while later the organization was in a position to pay our first staff members and take the huge leap of renting our first office!

Within 20 months we would be able to look back and count John Williams, Pepe Romero, Manuel Barrueco, the LA Guitar Quartet and many, many more amongst the artists we’d presented, our education program had grown to two schools with 100 students, and we had become one of the largest classical guitar nonprofit organizations ever in the US.

(Read Part 3 of this series: The Last Ten Years)