All About Grant Park

As the recipient of 50% of their revenue from government sources, the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, Illinois is the closest thing the U.S. has to a government sponsored ensemble. The organization utilizes a unique operational model worth taking a look at and they go a long way toward breaking down some commonly positions about how orchestral organizations function with regard to programming and attendance…


Polyphonic.org is featuring the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and the Grant Park Music Festival as their Orchestra Spotlight for summer, 2006. It includes detailed information about the organization along with exclusive interviews with:

  • James W. Palermo, GPMF Artistic & General Director
  • Carlos Kalmar, GPMF Principal Conductor
  • Neil Kimel, GPSO Second Horn and Orchestra Committee member

  • As the business continues to look for operational models outside of traditional mold, the success of music festival organizations such as Grant Park are certainly worth looking into. Click here to learn all about the organziaiton.

    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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