Is There An Unmistakable “Cone Of Ignorance” In Minnesota?

Apropos to yesterday’s poll about the Minnesota Orchestra Association (MOA), the 5/15/2013 edition of MPR News published an article by Euan Kerr that reports the MOA’s prolonged work stoppage is inflicting hardships on partner institutions within the local Minneapolis performing arts sector.

cone of ignoranceThis shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone and according to Kerr’s article, the Minnesota Chorale appears to be hard hit by the loss of the MOA’s entire season.

“With no resolution to the impasse between the Minnesota Orchestra and its musicians, we have to be able to make the plans that will keep the Minnesota Chorale a viable and vital organization,” [Minnesota Chorale Executive director Bob] Peskin said today.

The entire state of affairs brings to mind a bit from an old Simpsons episode where Bart’s antics have become so destructive that he is pulling down others with him.

The article also reports that both sides in the MOA dispute remain firmly separated as the latest round of potential bargaining sessions have been scrapped.

The musicians blame the MOA leadership for failing to provide requested information and the MOA blames the musicians for requesting information they don’t believe is necessary to conduct negotiations.

The self fulfilling prophecy continues unabated. It reminds me of another pop culture reference, this one coming in the form of a quote from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation: “When a man is convinced he’s going to die tomorrow, he’ll probably find a way to make it happen.”

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 “Is There An Unmistakable “Cone Of Ignorance” In Minnesota?”

  1. I love the Simpsons’ clip!

    That being said, I hope and pray folks won’t think the Minnesota Chorale is ignorant – we’ve just been sucked into a terrible situation due to our proximity to it. (Disclosure: I serve as the Chorale’s board president.)

    Although we serve as the Minnesota Orchestra’s principal symphonic chorus, we’re a completely independent non-profit artistic entity. This is our 40th anniversary season, and we’ve never had a better year for individual fundraising and grants – it’s been nothing short of amazing. Our friends and fans have shown us how deeply they value the beauty we share.

    But the lockout caused us to lose nearly all our projected earned income for this fiscal year. The orchestra is showing no indication that they’re coming back anytime soon, which means we have to take the terrible step of cutting staff hours and pay. After a year of scrimping and saving, heroic fundraising and superhuman efforts on the part of our staff, singers, and board, there’s simply nothing left to cut.

    We’re determined to keep on singing, no matter what – even if the orchestra doesn’t come back. We’ll find a way. Our community deserves nothing less.

  2. Gut feeling: The MN Orchestra as we knew it is already gone forever.

    Beyond that, I’ve thought through many ways it might play out, and can’t see _any_ path back to a living, thriving, outstanding MNO that don’t involve Campbell and Henson exiting the organization. There’s simply too much community resentment against them. Right or wrong, their presence at this point is toxic. If their egos allow it, they should step aside for the good of the orchestra.

    I agree with the “new faces” comment in the MPR piece: the musicians may also need to put different negotiators at the table just so that it’s not the same people who are stuck in siege mode.

    Binding arbitration seemed like a pretty sensible idea. I can’t imagine it would have cost either side more than what they’ve already lost in this fiasco.

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