Reader Response: Pandering to Grants

First off, let me thank everyone for the large volume of email I’ve received regarding the Pandering to Grants blog. Please keep in mind that I do wish to use your comments in these Reader Responses, so let me know if I have your permission to do just that when you take the time to write. Education is always a polarized issue and I’ve not been disappointed at the wide variety of your responses. However, during the course of reading through all of your emails, I noticed that many of you were missing the main point of the blog: That part of the funds that are coming into the BPO organization from this grant would undoubtedly (in my opinion) end up making its way into the general budget. As a result, I feel that orchestras should stop searching for and accepting funds from government and private foundations that place such unnecessary restrictions on the qualifications and use of those funds. Hence the title of the article: Pandering to Grants.

Furthermore, in your responses many of you thought I was taking issue with the education program at the BPO in particular and orchestra education programs in general. Since I haven’t had the time to respond to many of you, I feel that you deserve a special “heads up” regarding a blog in progress that will focus specifically on orchestra education programs. In the blog you can expect to see the BPO mentioned frequently. Although I have to warn you: based on many of your responses you may find my opinions of the BPO education department shocking. So stay tuned!

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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