Concert Cancellations And New Fundraising In Jacksonville

In an email message from 1/2/2008, Jacksonville Symphony Association (JSA) Executive Director, Alan Hopper, confirmed that the message appearing on the message board on 12/28/2007 was written by JSA executive board member Tom Beames (details of that letter are available here). Hopper also confirmed that personalized versions of the letter have been distributed to some individuals; however, there was no response to questions about whether or not Tom Beames plans to step down from the JSA board or if the board will ask him to resign…

In a telephone interview from 12/19/207 Alan Hopper also confirmed that at that time, there have been two staff layoffs but there have been no discussions about cancelling staff health care benefits. Furthermore, the organization’s Music Director, Fabio Mechetti, has not had his compensation or benefits impacted in any way since the musicians were locked out in mid-November. In related news, the JSA announced that their Masterworks Series “Sweet Firebird” performances on January 10, 11 and 12, 2008 have been cancelled. As in previous cancellations, ticket holders can contact the Jacksonville Symphony box office at 904-354-5547 or by visiting

As the lockout drags into its seventh week, members of the Jacksonville community have banded together to form a fundraising organization, called the Friends of the Jacksonville Symphony Fund, with the goal of bridging the financial gap publicly reported by the JSA and the musicians. At the same time, the JSA board has been very clear that they do not consider any difference in bargaining positions as a “gap”; instead, they have remained firm in their position that the only financial parameters they’ll consider are those established in their previous strategic planning sessions.

Nevertheless, the new fundraising organization remains committed to their stated goal. According to an announcement posted at the message board “contributions to the Friends will go to a fund set up at the Community Foundation, an umbrella organization that hosts a multitude of accounts for various philanthropic issues. As the fund grows, the board of the Friends group will determine what grants to make, with the money generally required to go to non-profit organizations such as the symphony.” Due to the fact that they are operating under the auspices of the Community Foundation, donations are tax deductible and can include gifts of stock.

Although the group does not have a website yet, donations made payable to “The Community Foundation” can be mailed to:

Friends of the Jacksonville Symphony Fund
The Community Foundation
121 West Forsyth Street
Suite 900
Jacksonville, Florida 32202

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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