With all the frenzied attention on the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) strike it almost seemed like that was the only work stoppage taking place. Almost. Once the shiny curiosity of the SFS started to wear off, it became tough to miss the hulking twin disasters that are the thirteen or so fortnight long lockouts at the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Both work stoppages have festered for so long that in order to add some variety to the discussion, one must resort to antiquated measurements of time just to add some faux variety to the otherwise well worn topics.
Fortunately, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond has added a genuine spark to the debate with a post from 3/18/2013 that spoke candidly about what he thinks might be some of the problem in all of this. In short, the Minnesota temperament may be too good for its own good.
It was interesting to hear one person reflect on one aspect of why they left the MN Orchestra many years ago, despite its considerable artistic cachet and (at that time) unmistakable upward trajectory. To paraphrase- “If there’s a serious problem, everyone puts their head in the sand. People in Minnesota hate conflict, and this is Exhibit A. Even the audience seems to think that it’s better to sit back and let it all play out rather than get off their asses and directly confront this idiotic Board; it’s just part of the culture up there. This time things may really come crashing down; they probably have already”.
I lack the details of the local politics and personality clashes that are such a huge part of this now…but what I find most amazing is that this is Minneapolis, a city with a supposedly literate, highly-educated, culturally aware populace, and an economy that (while not ideal) is certainly able to sustain (and has sustained) major cultural institutions for decades… I cannot think of another instance in which such a shining point of civic pride was abandoned for what now appear to be ideological and mean-spirited motivations, not to mention outright stupidity and incompetence.
For a moment, I thought Bill Eddins had marched across the Inside The Arts blogging borders to annex Almond’s blog; after all, barbed observation directed toward the MOA executive leadership has been a recurring theme in his articles this past year.
Nonetheless, that’s not usually Almond’s style; but after triple checking, it was indeed a genuine Almond article.
And this seemingly inconsequential point should make some of the MOA board members pause and take a step back to get a better view of exactly what their colleagues on the executive committee, not to mention the CEO they are accountable for, are really doing. If you’re on the MOA board and you’re not sure what I mean, simply reach out and get to know Frank Almond. Once you do, it won’t take long for the light bulb to go off.