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Meet Lynn Hutchinson of Canvas in Marina Del Rey / Venice

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lynn Hutchinson.

Lynn, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Sixteen years ago, my husband and I moved from Los Angeles to Amsterdam. In an effort to connect to our new neighbors, we offered an evening of music, wine and “hapjes” (HOP-yuhs: Dutch word for snacks). As a pianist, arranger, and theorist, I created a combination of classical, jazz and a musical exercise that I hoped would bring us together. Not knowing if anyone would show, we were pleased when fourteen people came. Even more pleased when they became so engaged in it all that they stayed until 2 am!

A few months later, we hosted another show at our house, pairing a digital art installation with live music. We named our burgeoning concert series “Canvas”. In addition to getting to know our community, Canvas became an opportunity to explore unique approaches to the concert experience. We started invited local musicians, artists and historians to collaborate with us. Through heartfelt hospitality, outstanding music quality and a sense of humor, our audience graciously rode along as we pivoted between different genres, instrumental combinations and presentation methods.

When we moved back to Los Angeles in 2011, we brought Canvas and its spirit of exploration with us. We’ve now created 32 original programs, collaborated with over 100 musicians, artists, and scientists, and welcomed over two thousand different audience members into our home. Some of our favorite programs: Bohemian Rhapsody: Vocal Pageantry and Theoretical Rumination, Divas & Deviants: Opera, Graffiti and Audience Perception, Meeting the Ghosts: Music in Occupied Amsterdam (1940-1945), Corners of My Mind: Music, Memory & Alzheimers, and Jim Henson: Music & Muppets.

Four of our shows have attracted national attention from performance venues. We balance our time developing new programs and managing these growth opportunities.

We pour our hearts into Canvas. Every time. We love telling music stories. We love giving our community something inspiring. We love the musicians we work with – most of whom are sessions players here in LA – and love giving them an opportunity to see in the faces of audiences how much their work is appreciated. We design programs with the hope that audiences will experience music differently in their lives because they’ve come to Canvas.

We are so grateful for the support of our audiences and artists. To be in the center of heartfelt high-quality music-making is an incredible gift. One that should be shared with everyone willing to take a seat in our living room.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The creative freedom we’ve enjoyed with Canvas has been tremendous. And the response has been incredible. But we’ve definitely struggled with two things: perception and financial support. Our concepts, musicians, and execution rival programming in large halls. But the explanation of avoiding overhead and maintaining creative freedom often gets lost in a perception of Canvas being a “pet project.” Fourteen years in and my elevator speech still isn’t bullet-proof.

The second is (like so many small arts non-profits) financial support. Our main expense is artist compensation. Full-time musicians spend money on education, gear, and self-promotion with no guarantee of steady income. We’re fortunate to have a network of amazing musicians who really enjoy playing for Canvas and agree to work at a reduced scale. But we would love to provide not only an amazing artistic experience for them but even better pay.

We’d love to hear more about your organization.
We are a 501(c) non-profit organization specializing in arts performance and education. We are known for providing intimate, unique, engaging, one-of-a-kind concert experiences for general adult audiences. We are unique in that we give LA Phil-level programming in a house concert setting with Ellen de Generes-level emotional engagement. Our audiences attract Millenials, Boomers, and everything in between. Our audiences are diverse. And creative. And smart. We attract the open-minded who are ready to learn, laugh and cry. It’s pretty much the best job in the world. 🙂

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My husband David Sheldon and I started this thing together. If I’ve dreamed up cool ideas for the stage, David has always figured out how to make it happen. For a musician who likes to share music stories, his technical skills and abilities to help me “connect the dots” have made Canvas possible. We also have an incredible team of volunteers who make the audience experience seamless. We have a crew of dedicated Canvas audience members who have cheered us on, given valuable feedback and recruited new fans. And last but certainly not least, the incredible musicians who passionately, capably help us deliver new programs – often while the ink is still drying on the page!

Pricing:

  • When not experiencing a pandemic, ticket prices are $25

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Liezl Estipona

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