With Friends Like These?

Every now and then a topic here at Adaptistration generates a great deal of private email responses; the most recent example are the responses to the 7/13/09 article which examined how the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) distributed economic stimulus funds. Toward the end of the article, I pointed out that some of the grant recipients were performing arts service organizations and postulated that some of their respective members may not approve of their service organization applying for the same grants they are…

As is the case with most topics that inspire readers to compose a personal note, responses were passionate and included opinions from individuals who agreed and disagreed with the practice. Furthermore, the responses weren’t limited to strictly those inside the orchestra business as a fair percentage of responses came from opera and dance stakeholders. Consequently, it would be useful to solicit direct feedback on this issue, so take a moment to vote in the following poll, the results of which we’ll examine next week:

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*such as Chorus America, Early Music America, League of American Orchestras, Opera America, etc.

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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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