Preparing for the next step

3/22/2018 11:22:05 AM

The Great American Songbook Foundation operates an exhibit gallery at its offices north of Indianapolis. Philanthropist Bren Simon recently gifted her nearby Asherwood estate to the Foundation to support the development of a freestanding museum.

Great American Songbook Foundation
chosen for national assessment program

Process will lay groundwork for development of museum

CARMEL, Ind. – The American Alliance of Museums has selected the Great American Songbook Foundation to participate in its Museum Assessment Program, which helps organizations strengthen their operations and plan for the future through a process of professionally guided self-study and on-site consultation.

The Songbook Foundation, founded by acclaimed performer and music preservationist Michael Feinstein, maintains an exhibit gallery and a vast historical archive at the affiliated Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. The Foundation’s ultimate goal is to establish a freestanding Great American Songbook Hall of Fame Museum, akin to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and other such institutions.

As the Foundation explores the feasibility of its museum plans, the MAP Organizational Assessment will guide the staff, Board of Directors and other stakeholders in analyzing strengths and weaknesses and developing a roadmap for sustainability and advancement. The one-year process emphasizes strategic planning and ensures that activities, resources and structure are aligned with the organization’s stated mission and benchmarked to the highest professional standards of the field.

The Foundation’s assets and programs have expanded rapidly in its first decade of operations. The Songbook Archives & Library manages the historic collections of songwriters and performers from the golden age of American popular music, with thousands of items representing the classic sounds of Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, Hollywood and beyond. In 2017, the Foundation became a Cultural Affiliate of the Grammy Museum®, joining just a handful of institutions worldwide.

Earlier this year, the Foundation received a gift valued at over $30 million: the 107-acre Asherwood estate in Carmel, once owned by the late real estate magnate Melvin Simon. His wife, Bren Simon, made the gift in support of the Foundation’s museum planning.

“Our organization has come so far in such a short time, and these recent developments have surpassed any reasonable expectations,” said Chris Lewis, the Foundation’s executive director. “Now, as we prepare to step up to the next level, this is the perfect time to take stock of our situation and make sure we’re on a solid footing for the future.”

The MAP program has served over 4,600 museums since its launch in 1981. The Songbook Foundation’s participation is made possible through funding provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums.

“Choosing to be part of the MAP program is indicative of the Great American Songbook Foundation’s commitment to civic involvement, public service and overall excellence,” said AAM President Laura Lott. “Studies have shown America’s museums to be among the country’s most trusted and valued institutions. MAP is designed to make them even better.”

AAM is the only organization representing the nation’s entire museum community. More information on AAM and MAP is available at

About the Great American Songbook Foundation
The mission of the Great American Songbook Foundation, founded in 2007 by five-time Grammy® Award nominee Michael Feinstein, is to inspire and educate by celebrating the Great American Songbook – the timeless standards of pop, jazz, Broadway and Hollywood. Headquartered at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana, the Foundation advances this rich legacy by curating physical artifacts of its creators, performers and publishers; operating a multimedia exhibit gallery; overseeing the Songbook Hall of Fame; offering programs for the public and research opportunities for scholars and artists; and providing educational opportunities for student musicians, including the annual Songbook Academy® summer intensive. The Foundation is a Cultural Affiliate of the Los Angeles-based Grammy Museum®. More information is available at