20 Hours Per Week

One of the points that came up throughout last week’s American Orchestras Summit was the “musicians only have to work 20 hours per week” comment leveraged by Cleveland Orchestra’s management during their recent labor strife. By and large, the response among participants was it only served a self defeating purpose and it is high time to put the old rhetoric out to pasture. Frankly, it’s a ridiculous statement, right on par with “all nonprofit managers are just hacks who couldn’t make it in the for profit world”…

Thankfully, Cleveland Orchestra management backpedaled furiously to get away from that statement but that didn’t stop a slew of responses from across the cultural blogging community. Most take the time to point out all of the obvious flaws but one of the latest offerings from Inside The Arts author Holly Mulcahy makes a uniquely entertaining connection to the movie Office Space.

So take a moment to give the article a read, have a laugh, and then hope that none of us have to be subjugated to that absurd statement ever again.

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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1 thought on “20 Hours Per Week”

  1. Another bit of “old rhetoric” that has popped up from time to time in my 33 years as an orchestral musician is the “you get nine weeks of paid vacation!?” line. The explanation of that rests with some simple math and awareness that the usual concept of a week is based on the business/corporate/government one of five working days. When someone utters with an alarming tone the above phrase they are assuming we work 5-day weeks.

    Collective Bargaining Agreements, however, provide for six day work weeks. Therefore, for every five, six-day work weeks allowed, a week of vacation is effectively cancelled out. Our CBA, for example only guarantees 15 five-day work weeks. So, in a 52 week season with nine weeks vacation there exists the capability of having 28 six-day work weeks. If, for every five of those you subtract one week’s vacation: 28/5=5.6 weeks subtracted from the original nine leaves 3.4 weeks of effective vacation.

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20 Hours Per Week