Inaugural Blog

As an avid reader of my colleague Andrew Taylor’s blog, The Artful Manager, I would like to start this piece with a quote from one of his writings:

“The world doesn’t work the way we thought it did, the way our common knowledge thinks it should, or the way our training prepared us for. Either the world is broken, or our eyes and brains aren’t seeing it right. One, I suggest, is easier to fix.”

Andrew’s excellent assessment regarding arts administration is one that I wholeheartedly agree with. How the industry currently conducts itself is in need of reform. How orchestra administration can adapt to the challenging cultural climate is the difference between prosperity and extinction. Identifying the problems facing orchestra management and presenting solutions are the focus of this blog. Arguably, some of these solutions may be considered unconventional and controversial.

In particular, I would like to focus on the following topics:

  • Identify the individuals and collective parties involved in the artistic and operational management of a contemporary orchestra.
  • Identify the current problems in orchestra management and present meaningful solutions as they present themselves.
  • Analyze and translate the regular flow of spin surrounding the industry of orchestra management.
  • Recognize individuals and programs that are revolutionizing the industry of orchestra management in a positive way.
  • Track news related to musicians and managers of orchestras that have recently gone out of business or suspended artistic activity.

I am optimistic that the ideas and observations presented in these writings will serve as a catalyst for the continuing evolution of orchestra management along with the art of live symphonic music.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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