Concert Hall Follow Up Dayton Philharmonic

On Monday I published a follow up article about what’s happening at the Nashville Symphony and their new concert hall.  I recently heard from another of the concert hall study orchestras, the Dayton Philharmonic, about what’s been happening there.

Dayton was unique in the study in that that they were the only orchestra that has completed their concert hall project; this season was their first in the new home.  Finding out how well things have run after their hall’s opening is as important as finding out what they did during the building process.

According to Curt Long, the Dayton Philharmonic executive director:

“Even with the best planning and execution, there are going to be unanticipated operational issues.  In our case, controlling the temperature on stage when the shell is in place seems to be the most problematic one

And the short, medium, and long term impact on ticket sales is so important and complicated that it is almost impossible to put too much effort into understanding, addressing, and making the most of the opportunities a new venue can provide.”

I haven’t heard from any of the Dayton Philharmonic players I contacted, which in and of itself has positive and negative indications.  It would suggest that the musicians don’t have any complaints or praises strong enough to compel them to respond.

But one conclusion the remaining three orchestras in the study can make is be prepared by budgeting ample financial and logistical resources to deal with issues such as climate control quickly and efficiently.  In short “be prepared”.

You might think that the temperature on stage isn’t that big of deal, especially since the hall is new after all.  But consider that most orchestras have dedicated language in their master agreements stipulating the maximum and minimum allowable temperatures on stage.  If the temperature is too hot or cold the musicians are contractually allowed to decline performing.

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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