Overheard At The Convention

Every now and then I like to post an overheard article that highlights some of the more dramatic/amusing/bewildering statements heard at events that cross my path. Typically, conventions are fertile fodder for such efforts but since I wasn’t officially attending the League’s Chicago event last week, I have to rely on colleagues to convey some of the more intriguing statements…

chatAt the same time, it really isn’t fair to publish something as overheard when it comes from a second hand source so I’ll have to do a better job in the future of harvesting comments first hand. Nonetheless, what struck me this year were the number of instances colleagues noticed other professionals saying something in a session that he/she would likely never say in front of his/her respective board members, musicians, or patrons (or worse, the press!).

I’m not a big fan of universal statements but it seems that the economy has some managers adopting sweeping statements, especially regarding issues of future expenditures. Granted, the economy has been a tough burden to bear for many throughout the business but spouting off vitriolic, far-reaching rhetoric in front of dozens of other professions is not a healthy way to vent. All things being equal, I imagine some management/musician relations will suffer some serious dents if even a portion of what I was told was accurate.

Ultimately, when you’re feeling stressed and beaten down and everyone around you is unleashing verbal rants, resist the urge to get caught up in the moment. The weeds of self pity take root easily in the best of professionals if planted in ideal conditions so be mindful of your surroundings and pluck those weeds out before they take hold.

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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