Delaware Symphony Still On Thin Ice

Amidst accusations of playing shell games with assets and failing to bargain in good faith, it looks like Delaware Symphony Orchestra (DSO) may manage to squeak out a 2013/2014 season. According to a few media reports, the DSO’s board chair, Tatiana Copeland, and AFM Local 21 Secretary/Treasurer, Glenn Finnan, hammered out a tentative agreement in face-to-face meetings, even after the DSO had already spent more than $60,000 in legal fees that produced nothing more than stalemate.

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-037If ratified by the DSO board and musicians, then the orchestra will present a very skinny season. Few details are available, but the 5/27/2013 edition of the Delaware News Journal in an article by Margie Fishman reports that the agreement will only provide 10 guaranteed services for an unknown number of musicians in the first of the three year agreement, with that number increasing to 20 by the final year.

10 guaranteed services provides for two concert events in the space of one season; three rehearsals and two performances each.

There is no mention in any reports about music director compensation or anticipated guest artist budgets.

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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