Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

As your administration approaches the many challenges facing our country, I hope you will consider a bold program of cultural diplomacy as one answer to the problem of improving and maintaining international relations. In particular, I urge your administration to implement a widespread and fully sponsored international touring and residency campaign along with a variety of cultural exchange programs, all of which would involve a comprehensive collection of professional American orchestras.

On a global scale, traditional Western European classical music is enjoying a previously unknown level of mainstream status. My own experience working in the Middle East to develop the business components for multimillion dollar state sponsored performing arts institutions has led me to believe that we are at a distinct point in time to create a unique bond of friendship and understanding capable of transcending politics, religion, and ethnicity for generations to come.

Given the diplomatic nature of these programs, I suggest they be organized and administered under the auspices of the State Department. If your administration sees fit to establish a Federal Arts Office, one of the department’s initial goals would be to coordinate closely with the State Department to begin purposed based cultural training courses for diplomatic assets as well as mission specific training for personnel from each respective performing arts organization. The State Department professionals overseeing the policy would then initiate efforts to work directly with performing arts organizations to develop and engage specific projects.

Programs such as these would offer significant returns in public exposure, improved international relations, and lowered defense spending while simultaneously supporting the field of professional American performing arts organizations. Given that much of the infrastructure necessary to implement programs like these is already in place to one degree or another, sizeable benefits could be realized within the first 100 days of your administration.

Thank you for your time and consideration. It would be an honor to discuss additional details about these ideas with members of your administration.

Most respectfully,

Drew McManus

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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