Getting Up To Speed In Utah

Over the past week, there’s been a flurry of media attention in the Salt Lake are about the Utah Symphony & Opera (US&O) organization.  Salt Lake Tribune music critic, Celia Baker, has written a few articles about the issues.  They’re both excellent examples of reporting the facts; you can read them here, and here.

Much of the attention is the result of consultant’s report which examines the internal organization and the financial condition of the institution written by retired orchestra executive, Tom Morris.

You can obtain a copy of the Morris report (.pdf format) from the US&O musicians’ official website.  Once there, you’ll also find a great deal of additional information about related issues and copies of recent press coverage.

To learn more about the organization as a whole, you can visit the official US&O website. And if you prefer to actively participate in discussing their situation there is a dedicated US&O discussion forum at (free registration required in order to post comments).

As the situation develops, you can count of the fact that the issues will be examined here as well, so stay tuned.

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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