CMA Conference Roundup

My day at the Chamber Music America conference was brief but fun and it’s always good to get away to NYC, even if only for a few hours. The conference itself was packed; shoulder to shoulder schmoozing only…


The vast majority of exhibition tables were representatives from a variety of Artist Management firms but mixed in were tables from publishers, composers, and a few ensembles. I keep telling myself to take some pictures at the next conference I attend but I never seem to get around to it so you’ll just have to use your imagination (although session moderator, Jerry Bowles, posted a pic of the blogging panel at Sequenza21).

Compared to other performing arts service organization conferences, the CMA crowd is decidedly low key; you had to look to find someone in an expensive suit (or for that matter, a tie). One of the highlights among the exhibitors was fellow blogging panelist Alex Shapiro’s table. She had a variety of her compositions with her in printed score form and recordings to boot. I particularly enjoyed listening to a recording of her piece for tuba and piano she composed for New York Philharmonic tubist, Alan Baer.

The blogging session itself appeared to go quite well, there was standing room only and several participants sat on the floor. There was a steady volley of questions covering just about every aspect of blogging and each attendee took with them a handout designed to help them get a blog up and filled with engaging content in no time at all. As promised, you can download a .pdf copy of the handout here (right click and select “save as” to save a copy to your hard drive).

At the session was wrapping we took a quick poll to see how many in the audience felt that they would start up a blog of their own and the response was split; some were very anxious to get started and others were shaking their heads to signal an emphatic “no”. What’s important is that the session gave them the information they were looking for in order to make that decision in an informed manner.

Blogging certainly isn’t for everyone, but for those who like to swim with this current, it’s a great ride.

It was nice to meet a number of readers and other arts bloggers at the conference session, I enjoyed talking with folks who came up to say they enjoy reading my blog. The ever introspective Frank Oteri, editor of NewMusicBox, was on site and we had a thought-provoking conversation about the state of the cultural consciousness. Kim Witman, the proprietor of the Wolf Trap Opera 2006 blogand director of the Wolf Trap Opera Company, stopped by to say hello. I also ran across Adaptistration reader Barbra Scales, an artist promotion professional who owns Latitude 45, and we had a good chat.

I’d like to thank my fellow panelists Alex Shapiro and Jerry Bowles, the board members from Chamber Music America who stayed for the entire session, and for David Ezer, CMA Conference & Events Manager, for inviting me to participate.

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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