More Change In Store For New Jersey

I received a press release this morning from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra announcing that their president & CEO, Simon Woods, has accepted a position as the Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and will leave the organization by July 1st, 2005.

The press release goes on to state that the orchestra’s board chair, Dr. Victor Parsonnet, will be assuming the executive role in a supervisory position until a permanent replacement for Simon is identified.  The day to day operations of the NJSO will be taken over by the senior management team.

Having Dr. Parsonnet assume the executive supervisory role should provide for some interesting times in the upcoming months.  Dr. Parsonnet is the same individual who oversaw the purchase of the Axelrod string instrument collection and when questioned by a reporter from the New York Times about his level of culpability surrounding the mistakes made in that procurement process he said,

“I certainly wouldn’t want to blame anyone, I’m an amateur at this. I’m a heart surgeon. I’m not a violin collector.”

Although Dr. Parsonnet’s experience as a heart surgeon apparently failed to adequately prepare him to oversee the multimillion dollar Axelrod instrument deal, it does qualify him to supervise the daily operations for the NJSO.   For some reason, the old saying “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” springs to mind.

Nevertheless, there is a silver lining in that cloud; thankfully, the NJSO has a wonderful incoming music director, Neeme J

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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