Boston’s BIG Endowment

Ok, I’m wrong. I’m not going to take the day off.  I just read through an article by Chicago Tribune music critic, John von Rhein, about the Boston Symphony Orchestra.


In the article he examines the current state of the BSO and where it sees itself going in the future.  Make sure you get to the final page of the article where you’ll read about how BSO managing director Mark Volpe and board Chairman Peter Brooke believe their orchestra is undercapitalized; even though at $270 million they maintain the largest endowment of any orchestra in the U.S.  According to the article Brooke said he wants to the BSO to become,



” a Boston cultural institution of international importance with a billion-dollar endowment.”


I find it heartening that the orchestra with the largest endowment in the country realizes the importance of needing even more.  Back in October of 2004, I espoused the idea of The BIG Endowment and firmly maintain that in order to build a stable, successful orchestral organization; this goal must reside at the heart of any long term plan.


Whether the money comes from government, private, or philanthropic sources (or more likely a hodge-podge of all three) the fact that it needs to come to pass can’t be denied.  Hooray for the BSO in leading the way.

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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