Getting Empowered in Columbus

Although the topic usually doesn’t get much attention beyond
the discussion stage, discovering meaningful ways to empower patrons is
critical for the future success of this business. Fortunately, the internet offers
a wide range of tools to those with the energy, concern, and inclination to
build interest in their local orchestra. One superb example recently popped up
in Columbus, Ohio when three patrons banded together to create
symphonystrong.com. My Inside The Arts blogging neighbor, Ron Spigelman, recently
published an excellent article
on the trio’s efforts and a Columbus alternative newspaper published a feature around the
same time. I won’t bother to repeat what both articles have already stated so
well but I do want to point out one of the more innovative features at the symphonystrong.com website: the series of
videos where figures throughout the local Columbus cultural scene express
support for the website and its mission. I think the vids are a great addition
and they inspired me to put together one of my own for symphony strong.com. After
all, why should Columbus locals get to have all the fun? At the same time,
putting together something elaborate wasn’t an option and yes, I had to take a
phone call while the footage was being shot but as they
say, it’s the thought that counts. You can find my contribution at the tail end
of vids populating the symphonystrong.com website or you can watch it via the
video player to your left and a larger version is availalbe here (sorry for not writing the text larger).

Speaking of using the internet and videos to spread a
message, if you haven’t checked out the players’ association website for the
musicians of the Arizona Opera, you should. Musician and web developer Bruce
Hembd did a great job at putting together a well designed site that’s chocked full
of even better content. Bruce even wrote an article about the process he used
to implement the project, which was recently published at
polyphonic.org.

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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1 thought on “Getting Empowered in Columbus

  1. This is a very cool idea! I watched the video before reading the post (I tend to do this with embedded video) and sat there puzzled for a moment, then read the text and figured it out. The Arizona Opera website is definitely put together well–if only more orchestras would put together rich content sites like this!

    Good observation’s Jason – now that I think about it it might not be a bad idea to put some copy on a black screen at the very end (in addition to writing the text larger!) I might even go back and edit it that way if there’s time. Nevertheless, it should have a bit of “what is this?” feel to it during the opening. ~ Drew McManus

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