A Vote Of Confidence At Chicago

Just a blurb today, I saw the article in today’s Chicago Sun-Times about the musicians of the Chicago Symphony initiating a vote of confidence on a resolution voicing support for Music Director Daniel Barenboim.  I’m thrilled to see the players taking matters into their own hands.  It shows what a majority of them feel is most important to their organization and it lets management and the orchestra’s executive board know that they agree or disagree with their decision regarding Daniel Barenboim.  According to the article, the resolution would ask the CSO board “to do what they can” to bring contract negotiations with Barenboim for services beyond 2006 “to a satisfactory conclusion,” according to a committee member.

If the resolution passes by a significant majority it will be interesting to see how much weight the board and management place on the musicians desire to see Barenboim remain.  With no legal status the resolution is nothing more than a “request”, but if the board and management turn down the request then you can expect to see a great deal posturing and growing animosity between the players and the orchestra’s leaders.  Perhaps the players will insist that future resolutions will legally require the board and management to act in accordance with the player’s wishes.  Sounds like a familiar idea to me ..

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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