All About Negotiations launched their inaugural Virtual Panel Discussion today…

In order to provide as broad a view as possible on this subject, has assembled a wide-ranging cross section of professional negotiators, executive managers, and knowledgeable musicians from a variety of ICSOM, ROPA, and OCSM ensembles. Each panelist retains a great deal of unique experience working with a diverse assortment of negotiation aspects.

Throughout the week, they’ll be engaged in a lively discussion centered on the main subject and you can participate by sharing your experiences and observations via commenting directly to panelists or to the discussion in general.

To get things started off, we established our discussion parameters by asking all of our esteemed panelists to address the following statement for their opening remarks:

Is the collective bargaining agreement negotiation environment the most effective tool professional orchestra musicians can use to influence the artistic and economic strategic direction for their respective organization?

Augmented Reader Participation

One of the best features of this online environment is the ability for you to interact with the discussion. You can participate passively by reading comments and using that information to better define your own opinions and understanding about negotiations and registered users can participate actively by submitting comments to in individual posts from the panelists or to the topic in general which are posted for everyone to read.

Panelists (in alphabetical order):

  • Eric Anderson: Principal Bassoon & Personnel Manager, Chattanooga Symphony and Opera
  • Laura Brownell: Executive Director, Symphonic Services Division, AFM
  • Chris Durham: Negotiator, Symphonic Services Division, AFM
  • Erich Graf: Principal Flute, Utah Symphony and President of Local 104 of the American Federation of Musicians
  • Carla Johnson: President & Executive Director, Virginia Symphony Orchestra
  • Nathan Kahn: Negotiator, Symphonic Services Division, AFM
  • Robert Levine: Principal Viola, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians
  • Curt Long: Executive Director, Dayton Philharmonic


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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