Whatever it takes: Making it work despite costs and delays

STAYING POSITIVE: Rising costs and red tape led to many delays for Asheville Music School this year. But its executive director, Ryan Reardon, says there’s plenty to remain hopeful for come 2023. Photo by Michael Oppenheim

Editor’s note: For our fall Nonprofit issue, we invited local nonprofit leaders to reflect on the successes and challenges of operating a 501(c)(3) in Western North Carolina. 

Ryan Reardon is the executive director of Asheville Music School. The nonprofit works to strengthen local communities through music education and outreach.

Xpress: What about this year’s volunteer/staff work gives you hope about your nonprofit’s mission and its overall impact on the community?

Reardon: Both our staff and teachers’ abilities to adapt this year have given me hope for our mission and our ability to continue our positive impact. We faced a lot of challenges with renovating our new facility, and it took longer than expected. But we were able to continue lessons, student band rehearsals and summer camps at various satellite locations around town. Our teachers and families rolled with it, and our music community stepped up to help get us through.

What has been the most challenging aspect of operating your nonprofit this year?

We had a great crew working on building out our new facility, but we faced a lot of challenges with rising prices and the city’s slow and antiquated permitting processes. Waiting multiple weeks for simple permitting led to delayed construction and a delayed move-in, which cost us over $20,000. That’s a lot for a small nonprofit.

How have the last 2 1/2 years reshaped the way your nonprofit operates, and do you see these changes as permanent?

We haven’t been able to connect as much as we’d like with our county, city and charter schools. I hope that changes! On a positive note, the past 2 1/2 years have forced us to create new user-forward online systems and an interactive website to make it easier for the public to inquire and enroll in music programs.


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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