DSO Executive Committee Postpones Decisions

Yesterday’s executive committee meeting at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) held the potential for becoming a watershed moment for the institution following statements from DSO leaders earlier in the month that the committee could decide to suspend the current season and/or postpone 2011/12 season planning. As it turned out, the executive committee decided to postpone any decisions about the 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons until next week…

The DSO executive committee also directed their bargaining representatives to prepare a revised offer to present to the musicians, as reported in the Detroit Free Press (note the new site layout) by Mark Stryker. Additional details about the political interaction between stakeholder groups can be found in Stryker’s article as well as a piece in the Detroit News by Michael Hodges.

The DSO has cancelled scheduled concert events on 2/11 and 2/12 but they have not announced any decisions about the following concert series on 2/17, 2/18, and 2/19. The executive committee’s decisions to revise their offer and postpone season planning are certainly a good sign but even if they did cancel the current season, they can’t buy time indefinitely when it comes to 2011/12 season planning. Those decisions, and the subsequent influx of subscription income, have very real deadlines.

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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