Honolulu Update: Hurry Up And Wait

Honolulu Symphony Orchestra (HSO) board chair, Peter Shaindlin, postponed a scheduled announcement about the organization’s immediate future as well as a meeting with city officials to discuss the orchestra’s economic position. An article in the 11/4/09 edition of the Honolulu Adviser reported city officials saying they found the cancellation “…frustrating and disappointing.” Furthermore, KITZ.com reports the musicians’ union has filed a complaint with the federal labor board following shortages as high as 50 percent in their most recent paychecks…

hurry up and waitAlthough speculation that Shaindlin’s announcement will contain details about bankruptcy proceedings, the Adviser writes that Shaindlin is calling the paper’s reports of an imminent bankruptcy as “rumors.” Nonetheless, it seems clear that the HSO is once again in financial trouble and if the impending announcement is not one of bankruptcy, it will almost certainly include information about changes to the organization’s business plan.

In the meantime, everyone will simply have to hurry up and wait for definitive word on the HSO’s future.

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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