AFM Poll Results

Last Wednesday’s poll asking readers if they thought orchestra musicians should leave the AFM produced an enormous response rate; at the time this was written, it had over 500 unique reader responses. The results were fascinating on several levels and since this poll allowed users to select multiple responses, it provided some equally fascinating opportunities for cross tabulation. Read on to find out the recommend fate of orchestra musicians and representation…

Overall Results

The largest ratio of readers believed the best course of action for orchestra musicians was to remain in the AFM and work within the existing system to bring about changes they want. At the same time, with only 36 percent of the overall vote, that option was anything but a strong majority, which is illustrated in Chart #1.

Chart #1: overall responses (click to enlarge)

If you combined all the responses related to increased self determination through organized representation* and those that favored the least amount of collective self determination,** a different picture emerges.

Chart #2:trending toward strong self determination (click to enlarge)

Respondents that were grouped together as Favoring Strong Self Determination in Chart #2, it was a nearly 50/50 split between respondents who thought musicians should remain in the AFM or search for representation solutions elsewhere with the latter favoring the formation of a new union over joining IGSOBM by a slight margin. Moreover, just under half favored staying in the AFM but only with substantially increased levels of self determination.

Chart #3: If musicians stay, they need substantially increased control (click to enlarge)

With regard to leaving versus remaining in the AFM, respondents clearly favored the latter.***

Chart #4: a clear majority in favor of remaining in the AFM (click to enlarge)

Finally, among respondents that selected more than one response, the vast majority selected options that favored substantially increased levels of self determination.* Out of those, 100 percent favored staying in the AFM with a little over 60 percent favoring forming a new union and just under 60 percent favoring IGSOBM. A substantially smaller percentage opted for bringing about change via the existing AFM political system as one of their multiple responses.

Chart #5: Among those that selected multiple responses, there is no doubt that self determination, regardless of platform, is paramount (click to enlarge)

This is certainly a fascinating topic; as such, the poll will remain open through the end of the summer. We’ll revisit the results if there are any significant changes or an unusually large spike in responses. In the meantime, what sorts of observations or conclusions do you draw from the results?


*Orchestra musicians should REMAIN in the AFM only if they are guaranteed substantially increased levels of self determination within the Federation, Orchestra musicians should LEAVE the AFM and join IGSOBM (International Guild Of Symphony, Opera And Ballet Musicians), and Orchestra musicians should LEAVE the AFM and form their own national union.

** Orchestra musicians should LEAVE the AFM and not be unionized at all and Orchestra musicians should REMAIN in the AFM and accept whatever decisions their elected leaders make.

***Based on overall responses related to LEAVE or REMAIN options.

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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