Beadle? Pot? Kettle?

In case you haven’t been keeping up with the latest news coming out of Columbus, the Columbus Dispatch published some articles about developments in the mediated negotiations. In particular, the musicians of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (CSO) rejected the latest proposal from management that would have required the musicians to assist in firing music director Junichi Hirokami, who has been a vocal proponent of the musicians and equally critical of the CSO’s executive board…

The Dispatch article
also reported that CSO executive director, Tony Beadle, stated that
Hirokami’s lack of residence in the Columbus area was the source of
some of the organization’s problems.

Hirokami should have remained neutral, said Tony Beadle,
executive director of the symphony — adding that Hirokami has also
failed to perform key duties of a music director for a major orchestra,
partly because he hasn’t put down roots in central Ohio.

"A good deal of the work is not done on the podium," Beadle
said. "A music director is the face of the orchestra and ambassador of
good will to the community and potential donors."

Cincinnati Enquirer music critic, Janelle Gelfand, pointed out in her Enquirer blog that Beadle’s comments came although the musicians’ spokesperson and
CSO board chair declined comment due to an agreement with the CSO on a
press blackout. Given the fact that the board char and musicians’
representative honored the press blackout agreement, Beadle should have
followed suit and if he didn’t regret his comments the CSO musicians
have gone out of their way to make him wish he had.

In particular, several CSO musicians have been quick to point out
that although Beadle chastised Hirokami for not residing in Columbus;
Beadle continues to reside in a local Columbus hotel while flying home
regularly to be with his family in Boston. Furthermore, the musicians
point out that this has been Beadle’s standard arrangement for more
than a year.

The fact that the CSO executive board proposed an offer that
solicited the musician’s assistance in firing Junichi Hirokami is
shameful. It is within the executive board’s authority to dismiss
Hirokami if they wish, therefore providing them with the "savings" from
not paying his salary (did anyone bother to call Hirokami’s manager to
see if the severance clause won’t be enforced?). Simply put, there’s no
need for any musician support and if they feel that strongly against
Hirokami then they should at least have the courage to fire him
themselves.

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 “Beadle? Pot? Kettle?

  1. Please don’t publish this comment from a British person if it is a really stupid question! But is there no legal precedent for an American non-profit organisation such as an orchestra, where the employees could take a vote of “no confidence” and/or “incompetence” in its Board? Or perhaps to take legal action along these lines with the intention of dismissing the current Board members and bringing in new and neutral individuals? After all, if you can impeach a President…

    Hi Rosalind, your question is quite valid. In fact, American orchestra musicians have been known to conduct a vote of no confidence in their board and/or executive leadership. although it doesn’t happen on any sort of regular basis, every few years it seems as though that very thing happens.

    Now, the vote has no legal ramifications meaning that whatever resolution passed by the players is not enforceable nor does the board have any requirement to act on that vote. However, these votes usually have more value from a PR and/or behind the scenes perspective. ~ Drew McManus

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