Four Minutes To Midnight On The Minnesota Orchestra Doomsday Clock

Losing two minutes in the span of one week isn’t an achievement to be proud of but the Minnesota Orchestra Association (MOA) moves another minute closer to doomsday following the official decision to terminate what was left of the 2012/13 subscription season. Incidentally, doomsday is marked by organizational collapse and subsequent liquidation bankruptcy.

Minnesota Doomsday Clock 4minIn a press statement published the morning of 5/8/2013, the MOA cancelled five concert events in May, two in June and one in July. And just in case you weren’t keeping score, the statement includes a note that the new cancellations were addition to the other cancellations from 10/18/2012-5/12/2013.

As we examined on May 7, 2013 there doesn’t appear to be any changes in positions coming any time soon, so the next big stretch of hurry up and wait comes in the form of the freshly minted “summer line-up” which features a limited number of general admission cancellations.

Once July is a memory, expect things to get dicey.

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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7 thoughts on “Four Minutes To Midnight On The Minnesota Orchestra Doomsday Clock

    • That’s certainly the case but the only pitfall is the 990’s available via online resources are usually two seasons old and board members could have changed. As a result, if any concerned individuals want a current list, contacting the institution is the way to go.

  1. The “summer line-up” also gives people the opportunity to send the MOA more cash, and/or roll over subscription tickets instead of requesting a refund. Either way, it implies a need for cash.

  2. Drew, you mentioned liquidation bankruptcy. Will the MO be forced to give up its non-profit public benefit corporation status at some point if it isn’t fulfilling its exempt purpose? Would that be the cause of liquidation bankruptcy? Do you know what would happen to the endowment funds in such a case? Thanks.

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