Tentative Seattle Agreement and Summit Live Blogging Day 2

The Seattle Symphony and their musicians have reached a tentative agreement. The new agreement, which has yet to be ratified by the musicians, will last 23 months over the course of three seasons and contains some very unique elements (although not entirely unprecedented for the Seattle Musicians). As I’m invovled with the American Orchestra Summit Day 2  (I’ll post Twitteresque updates again through the day if possible) and giving a lecture/Q&A session to students in the Arts Enterprise @ UM tonight, here are a few links for more info. Last Updated 11:10am…

American Orchestras Summit Day 2

Session: Sustainable Partnerships: What Works?

  • Before the session begins, I find myself thinking ‘Let’s all work together, but under my vision and leadership.”
  • Russell Willis Taylor: Don’t partner with anyone that makes you feel like they’re doing you a favor.
  • Russell Willis Taylor: Determine who is the decision maker and have multiple points of contact.
  • Aaron Dworkin: Partnerships benefit from “trust, but verify.” (Where have I heard that before?)
  • Paul Ganson: “As a historian, I don’t want to talk about partnerships that work, but partnerships that worked.”
  • Observation: Paul Ganson is a wonderfully entertaining speaker.
  • Aaron Dworkin: We avoid legalese in written agreements and use more emotional language but we do include detailed roles and responsibilities.
  • Susan Key: document during events, not after.

Session: An open discussion with remaining participants about actionable next steps; future conferences, etc.

  • Although the speakers recapping the session I attended are saying some very good things, so far they’ve hardly mentioned anything we talked about that comprised the better part of the last half of the session. The lack of inclusion about the labor relations issues and direct support for government affairs activity was especially disappointing.

Session: open discussion

  • There’s plenty of conversation about preparing students for the reality of a career as an orchestra musician but no talk about the honest politics behind the scenes within the university system that dictates who delivers that message, what that message says, and if it the information is filtered.
  • Observation: Once again, Joseph Horowitz continues to drill in the notion that there is some sort of universal oversupply of orchestra concerts. Not only is this notion inaccurate but I am concerned that it will become engrained into the fabric of this Summit and if it does, it would be a large disappointment.  More on my thoughts about this here.

You can find a summary of my thoughts, ideas, and observations from Day 1 here.

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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