…Adaptistration

Change is difficult, change is turbulent, and change is painful…


Nevertheless, change is necessary for survival. During recent years, the environment of orchestra management has fundamentally changed. The task ahead is survival, and that survival will be based on how well orchestra management is able to adapt and evolve. This weblog is designed to present ideas and create a forum to help accelerate that evolutionary process.


To most, the inner workings of an orchestra are a mystery, but how an orchestra (symphonic, chamber, and opera) manages itself is linked directly to the artistic success of that organization. With the current round of difficult times, many organizations are finding themselves at a financial and operational impasse. The result has ranged form budget cuts to organizational collapse. The industry of orchestral management is in serious need of reform. Orchestra management has grown stale, reactionary, and in extreme cases, exploitative.


The ideas and proposals presented in these writings may arguably be considered unconventional. They are designed to problem solve by identifying “what’s wrong” and present solutions about “how to fix it”. Since these blogs “are meant to be informal online hubs for their work, places for them to try out ideas…” it serves as an ideal forum for presenting these ideas to the public at large. Much like the title of this blog, I expect this “manifesto” to evolve over time. With your input, it will grow into something meaningful. Please feel free to send along any ideas, comments, or criticisms. I plan to post them on a regular basis.


In order to ensure accuracy and that every side to each issue is explored in detail, I allow any individual or person officially representing an organization featured here in Adaptistration to submit a response which I will be happy to publish, unedited. Responses are limited to 200 words and must address the issues at hand and the individuals and/or organizations must also be willing to maintain an open dialog for continued discussion.

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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