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American Music Advocacy Groups Plan to Merge

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Two longstanding advocacy organizations for American music are set to merge later this year — an increasingly common move in the classical music business.

The 72-year-old American Music Center is in final negotiations to merge with 37-year-old Meet the Composer. The two groups will combine their boards and staff into one entity called called New Music USA. Once approved, the new organization is slated to open later this year in New York.

The new nonprofit brings together two organizations that serve many similar, even parallel roles. Founded in 1939 by Aaron Copland and five composer colleagues, the American Music Center serves some 2,400 members by awarding grants to composers, hosting an online database of more than 50,000 works and running an online magazine called New Music Box, among other activities.

Founded in 1974 by the composer John Duffy, Meet The Composer secures funds for contemporary American composers and places them in residencies with ensembles, performance venues, schools and community centers. The organization says it awards an average of $1 million a year in direct support of composers and other new music projects. MTC has been involved in the commissioning of more than 1,400 new works.

New Music USA will combine the two organizations’ specialties in grant-making and media services; the former will invest in new work, the latter will publicize the results.

Ed Harsh, current President of Meet The Composer, will become its President and CEO. Joanne Hubbard Cossa, American Music Center’s chief, will retire. Under the new structure, the boards of AMC and MTC will be merged, as will staff in development, finance and membership services.

“The anticipated merger of Meet The Composer and the American Music Center brings together the collective vision and newly focused intensity of two organizations with a great and intertwined history,” Harsh said in a statement. “Joining forces will give us powerful new capabilities both to support the artists who create new work and to grow the market for that work.”

Mergers have become increasingly commonplace in the performing arts. Washington National Opera is in the process of merging with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Last year, a proposed merger between Harrison Parrott management and Universal Music Group fell through. Most notably, the 28-year-old Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and the 45-year-old Dance Theater Workshop combined forces in December.