The End Of Round One At Cleveland

Well it seems the Cleveland Orchestra is the first to officially arrive at the contract negotiation home stretch.  Although “arrive” and home stretch” are subjective terms.

Management and musicians have agreed to “talk and play” by extending the current contract into he beginning of the 2004-2005 concert season.  This will allow them to open the season without interruption to their concert schedule, which from a PR standpoint is a good thing for both sides.

But “talk and play” is a temporary solution at best.  Under the surface it implies there are enough serious issues remaining to prevent completing the talks in the first place. 

Although this decision removes some of the pressure built up by management’s decision to do some negotiating in the local Cleveland press, those pressures will be quickly replaced each day the talks continue into the new season.

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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