Now That's Some Industrial Strength Loathing

We don’t normally follow labor disputes outside of North America but there’s no way to ignore the Krakatau strength fight going on in Brazil between Brazilian Symphony Orchestra (OSB) Conductor and Artistic Director, Roberto Minczuk, and the orchestra’s musicians. What makes this such a tremendous fight? Watch and learn…

In a nutshell, the consternation is due to a decision that resulted in the orchestra firing more than 40 musicians. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the musicians pushed back and in response, Minczuk and the administration embraced the shoving match with open arms (and apparently stiff elbows).

The situation is, as of now, unresolved although an enormous amount of pressure is building against the conductor and the administration. Numerous soloists have cancelled OSB appearances in protest over the decision to dismiss so many musicians and there have even been protests by members of the OSB youth orchestra who refused to play in place of dismissed musicians.

Norm Lebrecht has been keeping a close eye on events and although there isn’t a reliable article index about it at his blog, here is a list of the current articles he’s published:

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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