Caught Between A Rock And A Compromise

It’s an orchestra manager’s nightmare: when internal factions go to war over artistic issues and when it comes to a topic that’s sure to spark emotion in the office, it’s artistic control. Everyone wants to have dominant control over what’s performed and more often than not, front line managers get caught in the cross fire.

More often than not, they are the ones to craft some sort of compromise that thanks to all of the internal politics, ends up producing nothing more than something equally bad or worse than any of the original ideas. It’s an inglorious reality of the business and it’s like the common cold; no matter how hard you try to avoid it, it’s going to catch up with you at one point or another.

To that end, how many of you out there can relate to this?

Who's Minding The Score? #0075 
Who's Minding The Score? #0077 

These two comics are from an ongoing storyline at [sws_css_tooltip position=”center” colorscheme=”rosewood” width=”450″ url=”” trigger=”Who’s Minding The Score?” fontSize=”12″]The comic strip about orchestra life written by the always sharp Dixon. [/sws_css_tooltip] where the orchestra’s intrepid manager, Carol, gets caught up in exactly this sort of pickle when a fight erupts between the orchestra president (and former local news anchorman turned orchestra marketing director, turned music director) and the new music director over programming for the orchestra’s gala.

Carol’s the battle hardened manager that holds her orchestra together during even the most trying of times, but there are always a few problems that don’t have elegant solutions.

What sort of no-win artistic nonsense have you been caught up in; live animals on stage, shaving off a patron’s hair, Carol’s “Life’s a Beach” nightmare, or worse?

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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