Koonsman Heading Back To Run Fort Worth

Sometimes executives simply don’t work out with their orchestras. In Fort Worth, it appears that was the case with Katherine Akos, the executive manager who followed Ann Koonsman, long-time executive director for the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra…


Ann has a well known reputation for being a central figure in building the FWSO into what it is today and it’s good to see her stepping back in to take the reigns while they search for a permanent replacement. It’s not often the business is witness to this sort of event but hopefully the board, managers, and musicians at Fort Worth will be able to find a new executive leader capable of filling Ann’s standard.

The trick, of course, is to not let Ann’s accomplishments as one of the best builders the business has known in recent decades to evolve into something resembling Founder’s Syndrome, thereby preventing the organization from finding a successful candidate. So long as no one emerges from the last few years with any unnecessary emotional baggage, the organization will hopefully identify a new executive leader who is capable of picking up where Ann left off (then again, we could also see Ann do an impression of George Forman and emerge from retirement to continue growing the orchestra; stranger things have happened).

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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