I’ll Have What Mortier’s Having

Did you catch the 5/20/2010 edition of Bloomberg where Phillip Boroff reported that the New York City Opera paid Gerard Mortier a $335,000 severance package even though he never took over as the full time General Manager? Moreover, Boroff reports that Mortier regularly flew first-class on Air France for City Opera business. Granted, Mortier certainly negotiated his contract at what we now know was the height of the economic bubble but those are some awfully good terms…

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

There’s a poetic tinge here (or is it irony) in that Mortier resigned at the very onset of panic surrounding the economic downturn. So at the very least, Mortier’s contract confirms that the world of nonprofit executive management didn’t miss out on the golden parachutes and perks associated with the rise of the executive class. It also serves as a thought provoking juxtaposition against Michael Kaiser’s recent Huffington Post blog post about executive burnout.

If nothing else, this is timely as it serves to remind everyone that the 2010 Orchestra Compensation Reports are scheduled to be published the week of 6/7/2010. This will be an exceptionally fascinating year of data as it examines the 2007/08 season, the last full season before the economic downturn.

Speaking of the Orchestra Compensation Reports, there are some MAJOR upgrades coming to the Premium version of the reports, available at Adaptistration Premium. Among other goodies, data tables currently displayed as images are going away for good and will be replaced by interactive spreadsheets allowing users to sort data by column as well as search each table for specific terms. Usability will skyrocket!

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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