Atlanta’s 12 Month Bump In The Road

According to a report from WXIA (provided by the Atlanta Business Chronicle and written by Ryan Mahoney), Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue decided against granting a $50 million request from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The ASO requested the money as part of their gorgeous $300 million Santiago Calatrava designed concert hall project…

Adaptistration People 102
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Back in the early part of December, 2005 I published an article entitled A Little Too Much Faith In The Government? which examined the ASO’s $50 million State Legislature bid and expressed some concern for their plan given the recent collapse of the Virginia Performing Arts Center (VAPAF) in Richmond, VA. The VAPAF assumed they would receive sizeable donations from local and state governments but in reality, they received very little of what they counted on. Once those donations failed to materialize they were at the mercy of inquisitive community advocates who uncovered a multitude of questionable accounting practices.

Thankfully, the folks in Atlanta aren’t approaching challenges of that magnitude; however, ASO development director Paul Hogle was quoted in the 12/07/06 edition of the Atlanta Journal –Constitution as saying that the entire building project would be put on hold for a year if the state funding to the tune of $50 million didn’t come through.

In a perfect world, the ASO prepared a “Plan B” they can put into action ASAP in order to prevent the project from getting derailed for a full year. If not, they will be forced to begin the unpleasant (and very difficult) task of fighting a fundraising battle on multiple fronts; secure the stalled government funding while simultaneously searching for additional untapped funds.

However, according to the WXIA report the ASO might add another front to their campaign; Mr. Hogle was quoted as saying the ASO is working on securing state funding in 2007 while also looking for added support from another government source: Atlanta City Hall.

The Santiago Calatrava designed building is a stunning work and it would be a shame to see the project come apart at the seams. Let’s hope the ASO is better connected to their local government than the folks in Richmond.

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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