Back After A Whirlwind Weekend With Some Thoughts About Nashville

It was go-go-go this past weekend in Los Angeles, CA for the HEARTbeats Foundation’s benefit album release event (more on that later in the week when pictures are ready but you can purchase a copy now at iTunes); in the meantime, I wanted to post some thoughts on the Nashville Symphony Orchestra’s (NSO) news last week about made it into the news last week.

ITA-GUY-032Nashville Scene reporter John Pitcher authored an excellent overview article published on 3/21/2013 that will help most folks better understand why Nashville’s challenges don’t deserve to be lumped into the garden variety work stoppages through the season of discontent.

There’s a good bit of my direct observations in Pitcher’s article so no need to repeat all of that here but I urge everyone out there to not only resist the urge to see what’s going on in Nashville through the lens of contemporary orchestra problems. Instead, look at it as something that has the very real potential to serve as an excellent example for how an institution can rise to meet, and beat, the rough and tumble reality of the economic downturn.

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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2 thoughts on “Back After A Whirlwind Weekend With Some Thoughts About Nashville

  1. Since the NSO isn’t going to renew their letter of credit, what do you see are viable alternatives to dealing with their debt? What other types of financial structures could be negotiated? And they don’t have any choice but to negotiate with the same bank group, correct? Obviously bankruptcy court was hinted at, but that would be a last resort…

  2. I wish I had definitive answers for the questions but I’m not familiar enough with the specifics to provide anything with a necessary level of certainty. But those are certainly the correct sorts of questions to be asking.

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