Patience Cures Many An Old Complaint

Today’s title is an Irish proverb and one wonders if that phrase would have ever been coined if they were running professional orchestras at the time. Nonetheless, complaints seem to be a staple of the arts administration environment. Blame it on a host of reasons; inadequate resources, artistic temperaments, the economy, lack of professionalism, and so forth, but the reality is complaints aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Adaptistration People 135But that doesn’t mean there aren’t right and wrong ways to go about both ends of the complaint cycle. Holly Mulcahy covers the front end of complaining in her most recent post at Neo Classical. Written from an orchestra musician’s point of view for other orchestra musicians, it’s an intriguing read.

As for the business end of complaints, a recent Facebook exchange with a friend and colleague made me remember an article I published back on June 9, 2004 titled Seeing Past The Anger, which examines how to receive and process emotion laden complaints with professionalism. Perhaps more important, it covers the

And given the operating climate of short tempers and high pressures too many arts managers are forced to deal with, it seems fitting to point this article out on Labor Day. So take a moment today to read Mulcahy’s piece as well as Seeing Past the Anger. You’ll be glad you did.

Read Seeing Past The Anger

Read The Art Of Complaining About The Arts

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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