What’s Behind Door Number Three

Times are tough all over for orchestras, and not just in America.  A recent article in Deutsche Welle reports the Berlin Symphonic Orchestra closed up shop after they failed to secure some last minute funding from government sources.  The article goes on to report that the orchestra managers attempted to raise funds privately but were unsuccessful in their attempts.

The most striking part of the article is the final sentence,

“The ensemble’s disbandment is the latest in a long list of German orchestras that have disappeared due to lacking funds.”

This is quite the opposite picture from the typical “grass is greener” stories being reported in the U.S. press about European orchestras.  In the end, it appears that the problems throughout the classical music business are not restricted to any one geographic region or system of governance.

The question which comes to mind next is, if the European system of heavy government funding isn’t bullet proof and the American system of private and philanthropic support is no better, why isn’t everyone trying to look behind door number three?

The leaders of today who will leave the greatest legacy in this business are the ones who find and walk through that door.

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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