The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Each Other

There’s an absolutely fascinating discussion going on as the result of a 7/2/2012 blog post from Diane Ragsdale. I plan to cover the main topic of that post at a later date but one of the ancillary issues stemming from the discussion worth your attention is what appears to be the onset of a budget size based caste system within the theater field.

This is applicable to the orchestra field in that the theater folks appear to be struggling with the very same issues that cropped up here a few decades ago. And even though our field has had a head start, that doesn’t mean we’ve evolved past some of the ugliness.

One of the most recent examples reminding us that the issue is not yet behind us was the recent Oregon Symphony decision to leave the League of American Orchestras due in part to what the organization defined as “mid-sized orchestras [carrying] a disproportionate share of the League’s expenses, given the way the dues are structured.”

There’s quite similar to what’s going on vis-a-vis the theater side of things, which apparently came to a head during the recent Theatre Communications Group annual conference.

In order to get up to speed on these issues, read this pair of blog posts from playwright Ian Thal, who worked at the conference as a volunteer.

[ilink url=”http://ianthal.blogspot.com/2012/07/occupytcg-or-how-i-finally-discovered.html” style=”note”]#OccupyTCG or How I Finally Discovered the Utility of Twitter, Part 1[/ilink]

[ilink url=”http://ianthal.blogspot.com/2012/07/occupytcg-or-how-i-finally-discovered_03.html” style=”note”]#OccupyTCG or How I Finally Discovered the Utility of Twitter, Part 2[/ilink]

Similarly, Thal’s points were hashed out in numerous comments to Ragsdale’s post and author (plus TAFTO contributor) George Hunka’s blog, Superfluities Redux, has some worthwhile observations in the following pair of posts, the latter of which contains some of my remarks sent to Hunka in an e-mail message (and printed with my permission).

[ilink url=”http://www.superfluitiesredux.com/2012/07/07/elsewhere/” style=”note”]Elsewhere[/ilink]

[ilink url=”http://www.superfluitiesredux.com/2012/07/09/as-went-the-orchestra-so-will-the-theatre-go” style=”note”]As went the orchestra, so will the theatre go?[/ilink]

I’m curious to know what folks on the orchestra side of things make of all of this so feel free to weigh-in with your thoughts via comment or get in touch to send a personal note along.

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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