So long as the gods of travel smile on my journey, I’ll arrive in Minneapolis this morning in time for my presentation later in the afternoon detailing eight months worth of effort on a project I’ve been working on for the Musicians of the Phoenix Symphony…
Entitled the Internal Governance And Modernization Project (or IGAMP for short), the program is designed to develop an enhanced internal culture within the players’ association. Based on the bedrock principles of successful collective representation, it fosters a system of sustainable representation that produces representatives empowered with the authority to accurately represent their colleagues, resulting in:
- Improved communication between players, musician and managers, as well as musicians and boards.
- A cohesive vision for the organization from the players’ perspective.
- Improved internal organization and governance.
- Enhanced representation at the committee level.
- Enhanced negotiation preparation and marginalizing natural stressors during bargaining cycles.
- Enhanced image among patrons.
- Creating a sincere sense of ownership in the organization.
IGAMP provides a host of deliverable material to the players’ association in the form of easy-to-use operation guidebooks, templates, and resource material designed especially for committee members, representatives, and musicians. For example, this work will include how committee members can create unbiased surveys, how representatives should conduct themselves and take notes during meetings (administrative & committee), how to run committee and rank & file meetings, clarifying the committee election process, how to listen to and interact with colleagues, creation of an new member orientation/reference package, creating an institutional history booklet, refine the skill of unbiased representation (otherwise known as the Duty of Fair Representation), how to establish PR relationships with the media, revising Bylaws, and much more.
Today’s presentation will share with International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) delegates the circumstances in Phoenix leading up to the project, project details, and where the process will continue. I’m pleased to say that joining me for the presentation are two musicians from the Phoenix Symphony along with an officer from their Local AFM:
- Alex Laing; Principal Clarinet & Orchestra Committee Chair
- Ron Whaley; violinist, Orchestra Committee Member, & ICSOM Delegate
- Madelyn Roberts; President, Local 586, AFM
Together, the Musicians of the Phoenix Symphony and Local 586, AFM have dedicated a great deal of time and resources in order to see the project through to fruition. Perhaps one of the best components of the entire process is that the players and their Local have demonstrated a real commitment to developing an enhanced program for internal governance via a process that is as much collective as it is their own.
At the same time, it isn’t as though they are attempting to reinvent the wheel, quite the opposite. In fact, they are following a program of action I’ve advocated for some time: developing values and processes that have been embedded in the bedrock of successful orchestras for decades. In short, they are working within the system to ensure that it operates at maximum effectiveness.
In case you’re wondering just how effective that is, just take a look at Nashville. They don’t have any extraordinary system for governance in place yet they have managed to run circles around other ICSOM level ensembles. Given the millions of dollars thrown at the issue of governance and labor relations over the past several years, the one lesson learned should be that money alone doesn’t solve problems.
Instead, you have to have a critical level of commitment among interested parties to give it support, often by having been involved in its formulation. And if you don’t set a process into motion that allows the musicians to begin this process with their own voice, without interference from other stakeholders, then the probability for marginal outcomes only increases. On the other hand, if you do have that sincere level of buy-in among musicians then it is amazing how much more you can accomplish with only a fraction of the resources directed at the problem to date.
There’s much, much more to the project but those details will have to wait. All in all, having so many key players from Phoenix take part in this afternoon’s presentation will allow delegates from other ICSOM orchestras to see a wide ranging point of view about what the program will accomplish. You can download a copy of the presentation’s PowerPoint outline by clicking the graphic to your left (Adobe Acrobat Reader required). Keep in mind it is an outline in the most basic sense so if you want to learn more details about the program or set an IGAMP endeavor into motion at your orchestra, just send me an email.