Another Minnesota Orchestra Cancellation

Almost as if on cue, the Minnesota Orchestra Association (MOA) announced that it has cancelled all concert events through April 27, 2013. In an effort to make the cancellations appear magnanimous, MOA President and CEO Michael Henson told MPRNews that the MOA has not “intentionally…cancelled the rest of the season because we want to send a very clear signal…that we really want to negotiate and find a settlement.”

nopeThe MOA announcement continues to focus on well worn talking points leveling the blame for the lockout on a lack of a formal musician counterproposal.

We’ve examined why this is an unjustifiable rationale in articles dating as far back as 11/29/2012 and nothing has changed since that time. In short, if both sides are negotiating in good faith, there’s nothing to stand in the way of working through every requisite item one by one.

The musicians have expressed similar concern over a lack of responsiveness surrounding their sticking point of performing an independent financial analysis. According to the musicians, although both sides have agreed in the most general sense to the undertaking, the MOA is insisting on using their own recommended authority to perform the analysis while the musicians have presented their own candidate.

As a compromise, the musicians proposed conducting the analysis in joint fashion with both sides selecting their own authority, thereby theoretically producing an analysis team with complimentary skill sets. According to the musicians, the MOA has yet to respond to this suggestion while the MOA asserts talks are “ongoing to agree to terms for the analysis.”

Moreover, the MOA has explained that their only interest in conducting a financial analysis is restricted to “testing the accuracy of the organization’s Fiscal 2012 results, as well as the forward-looking financial assumptions upon which the organization’s strategic plan is based.”

Although the decision to agree on a financial analysis may seem like progress, it appears that both sides are as far apart now as they were at the onset of the lockout.

In the end, the latest event cancellation is exactly what was anticipated back on 2/11/2013. You can expect the next announcement to be the final blow to the 2012/13 season unless the MOA decides to adopt an eleventh-hour strategy to play on stakeholder anxiety by filtering out the cancellations over the course of weekly announcements.

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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3 thoughts on “Another Minnesota Orchestra Cancellation”

  1. For anyone who would like to bring the music back, please consider signing my petition to the MOA Board:

    I created and posted the petition just a few hours before the MOA announced the latest cancellations, which were completely expected. Mr. Henson’s comments about not wanting to cancel the entire season to send “a very clear signal” that they “really want to negotiate and find a settlement” seems a bit disingenuous to me, however, the petition will send a very clear signal to him and the Board know how unhappy the public is about the silence.

  2. I’m just guessing, but I don’t think the musician stakeholders(the Orchestra) will come running when this group of liars decides it’s time to talk. At some point, we all have to face the consequences of our mistakes, but some people would rather use their employees and their customers as human shields. I will say this now, Mr. Henson. Leave now under your own power, or face being removed at the cost of the institution you were tasked to lead. You have failed, and eventually you will be brought to ground. Is it really necessary to take everything else down with you? Examples are all around you of ensembles like yours that are still playing, in cities smaller and less able to support them. Why can’t you do at least as well? It’s very frustrating for us to hone and polish what we do every day, while people like you are rewarded for failure.

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