Not exactly grass roots influence, but…

Today’s Arts Journal tracks an article in the Toronto Star about a patron uprising against a decision by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s decision to terminate conductor Martin Fischer-Dieskau contract immediately, instead of waiting until the end of the season.

The article reports that a long time large-figure donor to the orchestra “said that she and other influential patrons are “appalled and devastated” by the early termination of the conductor’s contract.” I suppose the key word there was influential patrons meaning those that give big bucks. The patron goes on to demand the resignation of the entire board, of which two have already done so.

We all know money talks, but wouldn’t it be nice if average patrons (without the resource of big bucks) could organize into groups with just as much influence as this large donor?

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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