The Turnover In Music Faculty At Interlochen

Recently, the Interlochen Center for the Arts website posted the faculty list for the 2005 summer camp season. The list goes a long way in helping to clear up much of the ongoing discussion regarding exactly how many music faculty were dismissed in the recent”Thanksgiving week Massacre.”

According to statements made by Interlochen Board Chairman, Gerald B. Fischer, in a message posted on an Interlochen alumni message board (you will need to become a registered member in order to have access to the entire message),

“I do believe the scope of the summer personnel changes has been greatly exaggerated. The number of people affected is less than five percent of the total faculty and staff hired for the summer. This fact does not represent the wholesale change that some purport to be happening.”

It was refreshing to see some actual percentages being presented from someone representing the top level of Interlochen’s decision making body. However, that five percent figure may be misleading.

Chairman Fisher mentioned that he included the total faculty and staff hired for the 2004 summer. That cumulative figure includes (among others) kitchen staff, cabin counselors, stage crew, practice coordinators, office staff, librarians, box office personnel, and music faculty.

Out of the entire employees hired for the summer, approximately 142 are dedicated music faculty. The chart below is based on the information provided by the Interlochen website and details the actual changes in music faculty from the 2004 camp session to the upcoming 2005 camp session.

You can see how the cumulative five percent figure provided by Chairman Fisher may be understating the actual changes that apply to the music faculty.

The following charts break down the faculty turnover between the 2004 and 2005 summer camp sessions by area of study (in the case of conductors, guest conductors were not included in processing the percentages):

It is reasonable to assume that some of the faculty members not returning were not included in the “Thanksgiving Week Massacre” but, as I’ll report later this month, that percentage of those not returning is very small.

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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