Editorial Cartoon: Philly Style Cooperation

It seems that the interpretation of unity is more flexible than ever as Peter Dobrin’s article from the 8/17/2011 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Philadelphia Orchestra Association (POA) musicians sent a letter to their board that formally rejects the orchestra’s recent strategic plan along with taking issue over how their supposed role has been publicly portrayed.

In particular, Dobrin points out that the fly in the ointment for this situation is POA president Allison Vulgamore, who along with her management team crafted the plan, has been repeatedly asserting in no uncertain terms that the plan was the result of meaningful musician involvement. According to the musicians’ letter, this was an unpleasant surprise.

Consequently, it shouldn’t come as much surprise that such a public divergence of perspective caught the attention of Dixon, Adaptistration’s political cartoonist, who delivered the following cartoon to my email inbox late last night.

Philly Style Cooperation

And as evidence that truth is stranger than fiction, the POA strategic plan actually lists “an airport hangar or warehouse” as potential venues. You’ll find it on pages 21 & 22 (pages 29 & 30 of the pdf file) under the sub heading “New traditions.”

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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