Do you think this is worth $74,425?

I’ve been digging around orchestra form 990’s at GuideStar lately and I came across what I thought was an unusually high expense under the “Compensation Of The Five Highest Paid Independent Contractors For Professional Services” category in the Phoenix Symphony 2002 return.


The Phoenix Symphony paid $74,425 that year to a company called Contact Designs for what the orchestra listed as “website design”.  That’s $8,997 more than what the orchestra paid their concertmaster and $16,733 more than what they paid their director of marketing in that same year.


So I went to the Phoenix Symphony website to see what their $74,425 purchased, but I’m going to keep my observations to myself for the time being.  However, I am going to say that their site inspired me to do something I think everyone here is really going to enjoy.


Send in an email letting me know what you think about the Phoenix Symphony website.  Was it money well spent?

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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