Here’s Hoping The Momentum Continues

So far, so good. At least that’s the way most folks would categorize this season’s round of labor agreements between professional orchestra musicians and their management. In fact, several organizations which seemed to be heading toward work stoppages successfully found enough middle ground to reach new agreements. Even better, some groups which endured contentious negotiations in their previous bargaining cycle finished up with nary a public peep and both sides smiling in the aftermath. Conversely, there are a few orchestras that have yet to wrap up negotiations on contracts that have recently expired.

The Omaha Symphony and Florida Orchestra are both engaged in play-and-talk sessions with their musicians. In Omaha all is quiet on the public front but in Florida, an article in the 10/4/2007 edition of the St. Petersburg Times by Arts Critic John Fleming provides a very good review of where things currently stand. Ideally, the situations in Omaha and Florida will benefit from the momentum established by other ensembles and they will settle their respective negotiations on a positive note sooner than later. In the meantime, stay tuned.

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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