Claims Of “Gross Mismanagement And Incompetence” In Honolulu

According to two news reports (here and here), the Honolulu Symphony Musicians presented a filing this week that “(Based) on its history of gross mismanagement and incompetence …management is incapable of the task reorganization and a Chapter 11 trustee should be appointed, or, in the alternative, the case should be converted to Chapter 7 or dismissed.” This comes barely a month after an article here from 2/8/2010 which speculated on whether Chapter 7 liquidation might be a better alternative than Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy…

Presented on behalf of the musicians by Musicians’ Association of Hawaii Local 677, the filing was reviewed by bankruptcy court Judge Robert Faris, who reportedly called the musicians’ statement “troubling.” Faris reportedly continued saying “there are questions on whether the case is appropriately filed as a Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy.”

The next bankruptcy hearing is scheduled for Monday, April 12, 2010 but the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra (HSO) lawyer is reportedly filing motions “to extend the period of time to file a reorganization plan and to consider whether to assume or reject the collective bargaining agreement in place.” Nonetheless, the musicians and management are supposed to meet before the April 12 hearing.

As of now, it is entirely possible that Judge Faris may decide the HSO’s fate by this time next month. At the time this article was published, neither the Honolulu Symphony Musicians website nor the HSO website mention this latest event.

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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