Forget The Good News, This Time It’s About The Drama

The last time the folks over at invited me on their program, it was to talk about the good news stories in the field. But in the wake of this season’s bumper crop of labor disputes, it’s time to take a longer, harder look at the reality surrounding some of those scenarios. Granted, if you’re expecting some sort of Fox News for Culture approach*, then prepare for disappointment.

Instead, I expect it to be more akin to the sort of Minnesota Orchestra Redline Agreement analysis we started earlier this week, but in talking head format. And since the show isn’t until Sunday morning, you have a bit of time to let me know what you think the show should cover. So don’t be shy, take a moment to send in a comment with your suggestion(s).


The crew from and me.


Sunday, October 28th at 11:00am(ish) Eastern.


The 2012/13 bumper crop of labor disputes.


*From me at least, I can’t speak for the SoundNotion crew.

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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9 thoughts on “Forget The Good News, This Time It’s About The Drama”

  1. Maybe a comparison of orchestra approaches to deficits & negotiation tactics/styles say Indy, MN &/or Atlanta (lockouts) vs. Chicago (strikes) vs. Jax (play & talk) vs. Toronto & Baltimore (not looking at salary cuts). Okay, that may take more time than you have.

  2. Here’s a question for them to cover: Why is it the musicians who are punished for the failures of management and/or boards?

    After all, the musicians do their jobs, which is to create music, yet they are the ones being locked out, denied pay, and denied health insurance.

    Management and/or the boards are the ones who are failing at their jobs, a major one being raising the funds to pay the musicians. Yet are they the ones being locked out of their jobs and being denied health insurance? No.

    By locking out the musicians, management and/or the boards are failing at their raison d’être, which is to facilitate the production of live music.

    This important fact is rarely discussed.

  3. When did tone-deafness become a management practice? MO is still asking donors to pony up while they have their boots on the necks of musicians. It seems such an incredible disconnect…”We thank our patrons for their continued support…hey, players? Would you keep that shouting down, please? We’re trying to run a business here.”
    Management seems confident that players don’t matter and patrons don’t care.

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