Quick Cash Dilemma In Honolulu

It is tough to ignore things that happen in threes and that is exactly the case this week with the Honolulu Symphony. First, Joe Patti posted an article about recent events, the Honolulu Weekly posted an article about the orchestra’s recent financial troubles amidst optimistic artistic gals, and then the orchestra musicians distributed a special edition of their newsletter to promote their opening concerts this weekend. Amid all of the unpleasantness from some orchestras over recent months, it is good to see that that Honolulu is holding on…

At the same time, it is disappointing to read via Joe’s blog that
the local government isn’t doing more to support the organization.
Apparently, it seems that the city is trying to decide between allowing
the orchestra the flexibility they need to reserve concert event dates
at local venues against quick cash from touring Broadway shows.
Although this might seem like a quandary for the city, it isn’t. It is
always smart to hedge your bet with the long view. Recognizing that
durable revenue generated by a resident professional performing arts
organization (which simultaneously pumps money back into the economy
via large numbers of resident artists) is better than here today, gone
tomorrow quick cash from touring shows should be a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case in Honolulu.
If anything, this is an excellent example of the value behind
maintaining a regular government affairs officer within the
organization, whether it is a full time paid administrative position or
a proactive board post.

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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