Appearing At The American Orchestras Summit

From January 26-28, 2010 the University of Michigan is hosting an American Orchestras Summit. Titled Enlarging the Circle: Creating Partnerships in Research and Performance, the organizers describe their goals as “bring[ing] together arts presenters, orchestra leaders, and academics to explore potential partnerships and strategies for confronting the many challenges that face the American orchestra today.” I’ll be participating as a panelist on the 1/27/2010 11:40 a.m. session, Thinking Outside the Box: Organizational Structures and Strategies

Click to register for the American Orchestras Summit.
Click to register for the American Orchestras Summit.

Also on the panel are PhD student in Musicology at the University of Michigan and co-organizer of the conference, Michael Mauskapf; UM Ross School of Business Associate Professor of Strategy, Michael Jensen; Coordination of performance researcher and PhD in Organizational Psychology, John Paul Stephens, and Pittsburgh Symphony President, Larry Tamburri.

The summit is sponsored by the Ann Arbor Symphony, Arts Enterprise @ UM, UM American Music Institute, UM Interdisciplinary Committee on Organizational Studies, UM School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and the University Musical Society. Consequently, the considerable academic presence should provide a refreshing environment to examine some of the most pressing issues facing the field today. In addition to the Organizational Structure and Strategies session, other items of considerable interest include Re-Conceptualizing the Symphony and Leveraging History: Lessons from the Past (full event schedule).

As the date approaches, you can be certain that I’ll post more info and make any materials I’m bringing along available here via download. I’ll also spend time doing some live blogging and tweeting from other sessions and events.

Registration & Remote Participation

The event registration fee is only $25.00 (free for students) and given the cost of similar events conducted elsewhere, this is a pleasantly reasonable and appropriate amount to encourage participation. This is doubly so if you live and/or work anywhere within a few hour’s drive of Ann Arbor, MI (event map). Registration Is Available Online or via the more conventional snail-mail route.

For those unable to attend, I’ve been informed that as of the time this piece was published, the organizers will not be able to stream any of the events live, but they will be posting videos and making other materials available here shortly after the Summit concludes. Questions about the event can be directed via email to

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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