Government Oversight In Action: Minnesota Orchestra Will Be Audited

According to a report by Euan Kerr in the 3/25/2013 edition of MPR News, it appears that the Minnesota Legislative Auditor, Jim Nobles, has granted the request from nearly half of the state’s legislature to conduct an audit of the Minnesota Orchestra Association’s (MOA) books. The request letter from 3/7/2013 included mention of reviewing the MOA’s feasibility study for the remodeling of Orchestra Hall, a review of the use of all public funds, and of testimony of Orchestra principals before MN legislative committees.

ITA-GUY-019However, according to Kerr’s report the auditor has made it clear that his office has no intention of examining some of the more contentious items in the developing saga.

Nobles said the orchestra has received state money from several sources.

“Some from bond money to remodel the facility, Orchestra Hall, but other money as well, and so we are going to look at all of it,” Nobles said.

Nobles said he will not be examining business plans and projections which have been at the core of the labor dispute.

“We are not, for example, going to examine the business plans, the financial projections for the future that are I think kind of at the heart of the dispute,” Nobles said.

Whether or not the auditor’s parameters will have any substantive impact on the outcome of the process is unknown but to that end, the original request letter made no reference to potential outcomes.

You can download and read the original request letter in an article here from 3/8/2013.

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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