A Scenario Of “Bad Things?”

In case you missed the big news from last week, Cincinnati arts patron and philanthropist Louise Nippert announced that she is giving Cincinnati arts organizations $85 million. According to Cincinnati Enquirer music critic, Janelle Gelfand, Nippert’s gift is the largest “single gift by an individual to a Cincinnati arts organization.” Flying under the radar of this momentous news for Cincinnati’s arts scene is a quote from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) president claiming that without the gift, the CSO was facing scenario of “bad things”…

150x150-ITA-GUY-009The CSO president’s complete quote from the 12/10/2009 article provides additional details.

The orchestra’s president Trey Devey said that without the gift, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra was facing the scenario of becoming an ensemble of fewer musicians, not playing for the summer opera festival and other “bad things.”

In the same article, Devey continues to project a less than inspiring scenario for the CSO.

“We would not be able to sustain this level of excellence without this gift,” Devey said. “The reality is, we’ve had a first-tier orchestra, and we’ve had a second-tier capital structure. So either we needed to retreat artistically and become less than what we are today, or something like this needed to happen. So it’s just really an incredible moment in the life in this institution.”

As Devey points out, Nippert’s gift arrives at a moment of undeniable serendipity yet it remains unclear whether it is enough to correct what Devey described as a “second-tier capital structure.”

In the meantime, you can read more about Nippert’s extraordinary gift in the following articles from Janelle Gelfand:

Make sure you take the time to go through each article’s comments. There are some pointed discussions on philanthropic giving and how it is perceived throughout a local community.

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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