The Latest Link In A Sad Chain Of Abuse

Aren’t we all tired of orchestra related embezzling? There isn’t a year that goes by without a story going public about someone stealing from orchestras or orchestra musicians. Of course, embezzling is worse than what’s reported as most cases are “taken care of” behind closed doors so it’s difficult to accumulate any reliable statistics regarding how much abuse the business endures each year…

The latest incident comes from Buffalo, NY where the Buffalo Daily News reports that Mark R. Jones, former AFM Local 92 president and secretary-treasurer, pleaded guilty to embezzling $74,000 from 2002 through 2005 (that’s about $50/day).

That’s a pretty hefty sum considering that the 2003-2004 annual work dues paid by the Buffalo Philharmonic musicians into Local 92’s coffers only amounted to $67,366. Unfortunately, that figure is even more staggering when you consider that the $67,366 represents 66% of Local 92’s cumulative local annual work dues.

The subject of nonprofit crime is addressed in an Adaptistration article from 1/23/06 where one of the primary conclusions was a need for increased oversight measures. Sadly, that conclusion is just as valid now as it was at the beginning of the year.

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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