Mock Reality

I had a wonderful time working with the MBA students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Bolz Center for Arts Administration program. Having the future managers assume the role of orchestra musicians in a mock collective bargaining agreement negotiation produced some fascinating results…

As for now, I have to run out the door to attend some after-action meetings with some of the students so we can dialog about what happened yesterday and more. Once those sessions are complete and I return to Chicago, I’ll write more about what happened and some of surprises which popped up during these sessions.

But before I run, I have to say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed spending time in Madison with the students and finally having the opportunity to meet my long time Arts Journal blogging neighbor, Andrew Taylor face-to-face. Andrew’s hospitality and that of the UM-Madison’s Fluno Center For Executive Education were all top notch.

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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