Survey Results – Dallas Opera Article

Tuesday’s survey designed to gauge whether or not readers interpreted a recent article by Scott Cantrell appearing in the Dallas Morning News could be interpreted as either positive or negative produced some intriguing results…


The survey asked respondents two similar questions:

1. Do you think the article by Scott Cantrell in the 11/11/06 edition of The Dallas Morning News casts a positive or negative light on the entire Dallas Opera organization?

2. Do you think the article by Scott Cantrell in the 11/11/06 edition of The Dallas Morning News casts a positive or negative light on the U.S. classical music business?

When designing the survey, I almost left out the second question because I expected the answers to both questions would produce similar results. Fortunately, I included the second question and the results were indeed different enough to take notice.

Based on the results, the article impacted respondents negatively to a greater extent with regard to the local Dallas area but not nearly as much on a national level. The chart below illustrate the differences (click to enlarge). Overall, respondents were almost three times less likely to think that the article cast a negative light on the national classical music scene. However, those same respondents still feel that the article cast a negative light on the Dallas Opera organization.

It is important to notice that the majority of respondents felt that the article cast a positive or neutral light on the organization and even more so on the national classical music scene even though the subject material reported the events of a tense negotiation situation that could have resulted in a labor strike.

It would have been interesting to learn more about why some respondents felt the article cast a negative light on a local level but not a national level. Unfortunately, the survey didn’t provide an opportunity for respondents to explain their answers but based on such a large difference, I would be interested in learning more.

As such, what do you consider “negative” and “positive” with regard to newspaper articles about your orchestra and the classical music business as a whole? Throughout the next few weeks, we’re going to begin exploring this issue in greater depth and I’m looking forward to identifying some parameters to this growing issue. In the meantime, take some time to think about this issue and then post a comment.

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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