The 2018 Guide to Good Health is here! FIND LOCAL DOCTORS & HEAR FROM EXPERTS close

Austin Innovator

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

Matthew Hinsley is the force behind the red-hot Austin Classical Guitar Society.

By Chad Swiatecki, Portrait by Greg Abell

When Matthew Hinsley, executive director of the Austin Classical Guitar Society, arrived at the University of Texas in 1996, the guitar group was little more than a collection of enthusiastic but mostly unorganized players and no real mission or purpose.

“It was very much a club atmosphere with no real artistic budget and a few guest artists who would come in occasionally,” says Hinsley, a trained classical guitarist who earned a doctorate from UT and spearheaded the growth of the ACGS soon after his arrival. “I poured lots of energy in to it and we built a concert series, added an adult ensemble program, began an education program and we’re now to the point where we’re world leaders in classical guitar curriculum.”

While Hinsley, who also trained at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, and Oberlin Conservatory of Music, brought to the group a master-level talent with the guitar, it was his drive to organize and formalize its operations that made the biggest difference. From those scrappy beginnings, the guitar society now hosts world-renowned players from throughout the world and its concerts and other programs throughout the year have made it one of the leading lights of Austin’s fine-arts scene.

That growth has made Hinsley, 37, a national authority in how local nonprofit arts groups can chart a course to sustainability and prominence in their communities. His 2011 book, Creativity to Community: Arts Nonprofit Success One Coffee at a Time, has helped solidify his status as something of a guru for arts groups throughout the country looking to find firm footing. A classical guitar enthusiast from a young age, Hinsley had an idea for something like the current form of ACGS, which took shape while he was completing his master’s works at Oberlin.

“I had no business classes or anything like that, but I had a vision and a real interest in seeing how the field of guitar study could advance,” he says. “People told me, ‘You can’t make a living in the arts,’ but I wrote my thesis on classical guitar in the arts market and how the guitar can have a place in our communities.”

One of Hinsley’s most important keys for fledgling arts groups is having a complete vision for how to engage the community instead of focusing solely on the discipline, be it music, visual art or drama. “Lots of community arts organizations are created by people who are very passionate in what they do, but what can you do beyond that?” he asks. “Folks tend to not want to invest in the publicity and outreach, and you end up with a pretty small vision or product because of that.”

Another key, Hinsley says, is partnering with other arts and public groups, such as schools and museums, to merge talents and audiences. As an example, he points to a fall 2011 program the ACGS helped organize at ACL Live with Austin Pictures, public television station KLRU, the Alamo Drafthouse and a handful of local high- school arts students that used music and film to explore the creative process in visual art. Those types of high-profile—some would say “splashy”—events have helped Hinsley attract donors from throughout the community and grow the ACGS’s budget to roughly $500,000 annually.

Going forward, Hinsley says he’s most excited about the group’s emerging online educational component that’s being taught throughout the country, and he enjoys speaking and consulting at colleges and institutions in the U.S.

“I’m a big believer in energy and how to focus it, and I’m getting messages of hope from people who see what we’ve done and think they can do it in their own society,” he says. “It’s wonderful to see that energy. People say, ‘We think we can do this,’ and I say, ‘OK, let’s talk about some steps that will work for you.’”



  1. You have made some decent points there. I checked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this site.

  2. It is really a nice and helpful piece of information. I am satisfied that you just shared this helpful tidbit with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Terrific paintings! That is the type of info that should be shared across the internet. Shame on Google for now not positioning this post upper! Come on over and visit my web site. Thanks =)

  4. Usually I do not learn article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to try and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, very great article.

  5. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I am not sure I ad want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  6. I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my problem. You are wonderful! Thanks!

  7. Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks I ave read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you ave got the opportunity, Guess I all just bookmark this blog.

  8. What is the procedure to copyright a blog content (text and images)?. I wish to copyright the content on my blog (content and images)?? can anyone please guide as to how can i go abt it?.

  9. This particular blog is no doubt educating and besides amusing. I have found a bunch of interesting things out of this amazing blog. I ad love to return again soon. Thanks!

  10. I simply could not depart your site before suggesting that I really enjoyed the usual information a person provide to your visitors? Is gonna be back frequently to check out new posts

  11. Usually I do not read post on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to take a look at and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, very nice article.

  12. Im no expert, but I consider you just made an excellent point. You naturally understand what youre talking about, and I can truly get behind that. Thanks for staying so upfront and so truthful.

  13. Normally I do not learn post on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do so! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, quite nice post.

  14. Nice blog right here! Also your web site so much up very fast! What host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your associate link on your host? I desire my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  15. Spot on with this write-up, I seriously believe that this website needs a lot more attention. I all probably be back again to see more, thanks for the advice!

  16. Your means of explaining all in this piece of writing is genuinely fastidious, all can without difficulty be aware of it, Thanks a lot.

  17. I will immediately seize your rss as I can not find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Please permit me realize in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  18. In my country we don at get much of this type of thing. Got to search around the entire world for such up to date pieces. I appreciate your energy. How do I find your other articles?!

  19. Wow, marvelous weblog structure! How lengthy have you been running a blog for? you made running a blog look easy. The full look of your site is excellent, let alone the content material!

  20. Wow! This could be one particular of the most useful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Great. I am also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your effort.

  21. Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is wonderful, let alone the content!

  22. I wish people would compose much more about this while you have done. This is something which is very essential and possesses been largely overlooked through the world wide web local community

  23. You can definitely see your enthusiasm within the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

  24. Very nice post and straight to the point. I am not sure if this is actually the best place to ask but do you guys have any thoughts on where to hire some professional writers? Thank you

  25. This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post. Also, I ave shared your site in my social networks!

  26. Superb Article My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was totally right. This post truly made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

Leave A Reply