Apparently Something Happened In Indianapolis

Remember the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s (ISO) big, ugly, and very public labor dispute and work stoppage? It was temporarily suspended thanks to a bridge agreement that included a board goal of raising $5 million by the beginning of February.

That deadline recently passed and the ISO issued a press release on 2/3/2013 stating they exceeded their goal.

150x150_ITA_Guy097Unfortunately, there aren’t many details and the local Indianapolis press has been more or less limited to regurgitating details from the ISO’s succinct release.

The best source, as of the time this article was written, is from the 2/4/2013 edition of the Indy Star in an article by Cathy Kightlinger which reports the ISO doesn’t know exactly how much they raised but decided to issue the statement anyway.

But the final tally was unknown, even as the announcement was being made. […]The final tally of donations will be announced when all gifts and pledges are documented.

The bridge agreement has been something of a mystery due to neither the ISO nor the musicians releasing very many details about how the deal was structured. According to Kightlinger’s article, it appears that the ISO board had the authority all along to determine whether or not any fundraising amount sufficiently met their threshold.

If today’s goal had not been met, musicians and management might have been back at the negotiating table, but that wasn’t likely. A waiver clause in the contract let ISO management declare the fundraising sufficient.

Adding to the uncertainty is the deafening silence from musicians who did not provide a statement for Kightlinger’s article. Similarly, their website is devoid of any written statement, or even acknowledgement, of the ISO board’s Mission Accomplished statement.

The only ancillary recognition from musicians was in the form of a post at their Facebook page to one of the news articles about the event.

As of now, the entire situation is a genuine head-scratcher. Stay tuned for more info when, and if, it is made available.

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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