A Bright Note Before Christmas

Following a series of setbacks that might have been the beginning of the end for other groups, the Charlotte Symphony is less than $100,000 away from its goal of raising $1.77 million by the end of 2009. The fundraising success follows the appointment of Jonathan Martin as Executive Director, who when asked about the goal for an article in the 12/15/2009 edition of the Charlotte Observer said he is “confident that we’re going to get there.”

Things are looking up at the Charlotte Symphony.

I had the pleasure of attending a Charlotte Symphony concert back at the end of November and I can say that I was very impressed with the group as a whole. Their performance of Beethoven’s Eroica was outstanding and Beethoven’s Triple Concerto (featuring Helen Nightengale, violin; Lynn Harrell, cello; and Joanne Pearce Martin, piano) was an equally a strong performance.

For a group that has endured a long period economic instability, the musicians are certainly performing at a level that might be accurately described as “beyond their pay grade.” I can only imagine how much positive impact the successful round of fundraising will have on their future. Hopefully the local Arts and Science Council will realize the folly of their ways and fully restore the orchestra’s funding and then some.

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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