Syracuse Board Votes To Liquidate

The 4/5/2011 edition of the Syracuse Post-Standard published an article by Melinda Johnson which reports the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra (SSO) board elected to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy by a vote of 15 for and two against…

At the same time, this doesn’t mean it will necessarily happen the way you might suspect. The request has to be presented in court and a judge will ultimately rule on the petition. As an example of the potential disconnect between decisions and outcomes, the SSO also announced that they would not be issuing any refunds to ticket holders for the remaining season’s cancelled concerts. But shortly after that announcement, the 4/6/2011 edition of WAMC news posted a copy of an on-air segment by Dave Lucas that quotes New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, as saying “consumers generally should get refunds for services not provided” but his office will have to examine the SSO’s books in order to know for certain and in the meantime, ticket holders should file complaints with his office.

Given the fact that the SSO Interim Executive Director, Paul Brooks, has gone on record stating that one of the driving forces behind the decision to liquidate was due to unfunded pension liabilities, it should come as no surprise to anyone that this situation is far from cut and dry. Likewise, we can expect to see events unfold over the next several weeks that paint a clearer picture of what has been going on behind the SSO’s closed doors.

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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