It’s The Atmosphere, Dummy

If you haven’t taken the time to read the latest article from love-him-or-hate-him Norm Lebrecht, carve a few moments out of your day and give it a read.  It’s a good piece that points out what most people are thinking but don’t say out loud.

Norm points out that most people are simply uncomfortable with the atmosphere of classical music concerts a topic examined at length here on numerous occasions.  From the gilded halls to the unspoken traditions (care to guess how many people never return to a concert if they committed the sin of clapping between movements?) the whole event can come across like secret society meeting and you don’t know the secret handshake.

So how do you fix the problem?  According to Norm, you don’t go about it by launching a number of “gimmicks bred of desperation”.  But it’s important to note that there isn’t a silver bullet that will work equally at all levels of the business. Each orchestra is going to have to learn how to tap into their individual society and find out what their people like best.

And the most efficient way to go about doing that is asking them at point blank range.  Starting next month, Adaptistration is going to begin implementing some really fun ideas to do exactly that; so stay tuned   [UPDATE 2/14/05: the promised idea will be postponed until April so it can take advantage of some very cool technological updates – trust me, it will be worth it].

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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