Stepping On Some Toes

It’s a delicate art to talk about something uncomfortable such as racism, sexism, and any other squirm inducing -ism, especially since this field already has to push back against misconceptions of elitism. But at the same time, we’re no different in this regard than any other business and addressing the dark and ugly sides is something that needs to be done. Case in point, conductor Bill Eddins tackled racism in an article from his blog, Sticks and Drones, on 8/19/2011 titled Uncle Tom’s Orchestra.

With more than 170 Facebook shares plus dozens of additional social media broadcasts, it has caused quite a stir. The response has been a widely dispersed mix of approval and disapproval; just take a look at the comment thread for a representative cross section of what I’m getting at.

Nonetheless, I recommend taking the time to read the entire piece and if you feel so inclined, leave a comment.

Read Uncle Tom’s Orchestra

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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