Garbage In, Garbage Out?

Thanks to Technology in the Arts for posting something on the Americans for the Arts video contest winners on 11/2/2010. All three videos features are well made, wonderful productions but it is hard to miss the fact that the message they deliver in response to the question “Why do the arts matter to you?” center mostly on the stereotypical talking points the field has been delivering for decades…

You certainly can’t find any fault with those who made the videos, all they did was reflect the message we’ve been beaming at them. So from that perspective, the videos are twice as valuable because they demonstrate that the field as a whole needs to seriously rethink the image we project.

Take a look at the three winners:

Grand Prize Winner



Over 18 Winner


Under 18 Winner




Now, take a moment to watch this video from Save the Arts, a UK based advocacy group. It is a perfect example of the direction we need to go and the sooner we can incorporate this into the image we project, the better.

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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