2008 Canadian Orchestra Website Review: Trends and Detailed Scores

The 2008 Canadian reviews witnessed a number of intriguing trends, not the least of which was a surge in average scores, the single largest category percent increase, and the smallest ratio of orchestras to earn a failing grade…


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click to enlarge

Although the increase in scores is certainly good news, it is worth noting that the average score still only managed to secure a grade of “C-” which is a full letter grade lower than any orchestra should be satisfied with. Nevertheless, if Canadian orchestras can continue to progress at the level they’ve accomplished since their first review in 2005, they’ll likely reach that goal by the 2009 reviews.

Although a Canadian orchestra has yet to receive a Grade of “A” the average grades improved considerably over the 2007 review. In 2007, nearly half of Canadian orchestra websites earned an “F” whereas that percentage dropped to only 14 percent in 2008. The number of orchestras that received a “D” remained the same but the number of those earning a “C” increased 75 percent.

Impact of Revised Evaluation Criteria on Category Scores

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click to enlarge

Of the three unaltered review categories, Canadian orchestras managed to show improvement in Performance Schedule and Making Donations while average scores dipped a bit for Purchasing Tickets. Of particular note it the category of Making Donations where Canadian orchestras earned a 69 percent increase in average scores over the 2007 review. In that article, it was suggested that Canadian orchestras take advantage of the third party resource, CanadaHelps.org which is precisely what most of them did. The service not only facilitates online donations but allows users to create numerous personalized fund designations.

The Edmonton Symphony demonstrates connectivity
The Edmonton Symphony provided contact info for artistic executives, board members, and administrators.

The remaining three categories were highly modified from last year’s review and deserve to be examined with a quantitative eye. The Functionality category (previously “Content and Functionality”) returned to a slightly higher level than the first review year. The Orchestra Information category scored much higher than last year due mostly to an increase in orchestras providing much higher quantity and quality of information about musicians and conductors as well as providing more complete contact information for administrators and board members. Of particular note is this year’s top scoring Canadian orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Their completely redesigned website provided contact information for their music director and board of directors as well as complete contact information for their entire administration.

Finally, the new Dynamic Content category generated the lowest scores of any category. Only a handful of orchestras provided any sort of RSS feeds and of those who did, their usefulness was limited. Likewise, very few orchestras provided direct contact information for public relations officers on a dedicated press page. Of all the review’s traditional sub-categories, this one generated the lowest scores.

Detailed Scores

In order to view any orchestra’s detailed category scores, just click on their respective chart below to enlarge (TIP: the orchestra’s name will pop up when you drift your mouse over the chart). Orchestras are listed alphabetically and you can browse through each chart in the gallery directly from the viewer after opening your first chart.

Click to learn about how you can access this information at Adaptistration Premium
Click to learn about how you can access this information at Adaptistration Premium

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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