Hero For Hire

Well, I wouldn’t go that far but it is was very humbling to run across this article in the 5/25/2009 edition of sbj.net (Springfield Business Journal Online), thanks to SBJ for taking an interest in the projects and to Ron Spigelman for calling me a “truth seeker” – which sounds vaguely like Marvel comics character. Nonetheless, last week’s retreat with the Symphony couldn’t have gone better and I’m looking forward to returning at the end of this week to work with the Arts Council…

The Truth Seeker Vs. The Creative Accountant!
The Truth Seeker Vs. The Creative Accountant!

Details of the projects are provided in the SBJ article and I have to say it is a pleasure to blog a bit more on the side, such as last week’s post on the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s (SSO) musician initiative program. What I didn’t mention in that article is the group came up with this idea all on their own, without the help of a Foundation or high priced consultants. It simply made sense and they found a way to establish a self-sustaining process that proceeds without external help.

One of the particularly interesting components of the greater Springfield (MO) cultural scene is the building shared by the resident performing arts organizations. The Creamery Arts Center is home to the Springfield Regional Arts Council, Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Springfield Ballet, and Springfield Regional Opera as well as office for the Community Center and an Arts Patronage Initiative. Located directly across the street from John Q. Hammons Field (a strikingly beautiful baseball park) the building is able to host workshops, classes, receptions, and board meetings for numerous arts and cultural agencies.

The building serves as a hub for cultural activity and having all of the offices located in a single building certainly facilitates cooperation; or at the very least, makes it more convenient to iron out differences. The building is a bit of a work in progress from the perspective that the resident organizations are exploring new options for maximizing facilities and space.

It really is a lovely building (the SBJ photo was taken in one of the large, open spaces) and I’ll have to be more mindful to take some pictures of the building and SSO offices (pending their approval) when I return later this week (they really are fantastic!). With regard to the latter, office space is a passion of mine and I know plenty of orchestral organizations with five times the budget of the SSO that would turn green with envy at the quality of their work digs.

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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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