Minnesota May Mediate

The 7/12/13 edition of the Star Tribune published an article by Graydon Royce which reports that the Minnesota Orchestra Association and its musicians have entered into a ten day getting-to-know-you period where both sides will determine if they are comfortable working with a mediator with the goal of resolving the season long labor dispute and work stoppage.

ADAPTISTATION-GUY-072The only noticeable difference in this current effort is the lack of aggressive action-reaction style PR that has become a hallmark of the emotionally intense and heated dispute.

In best case scenarios, mediation provides an opportunity for one or both sides to save face by allowing either stakeholder to claim the new bargaining environment contributed to progress rather than looking weak to constituents or admitting any change of heart or softening in positions.

Conversely, mediation can be used as just another ploy to increase pressure and leverage in a siege based labor dispute.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the MOA cancelled the ad hoc summer concert series designed to replace some of the cancelled masterworks concerts from the regular season. For the time being, patrons and everyone else throughout the field will have to hurry up and wait while the latest effort runs its course.

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 “Minnesota May Mediate”

  1. It’s about time . . . and it’s too bad it wasn’t done sooner as I think the horse is already out of the barn. No matter what happens, it will not be the MO that played in Carnegie Hall last spring, and the enmity between the parties doesn’t bode well in an organization that desperately needs the input and consideration from all interested parties, including the audience.

    Here’s a possible scenario:
    – the mediation works and the orchestra goes back to work, but with reduced income for the musicians.
    – a nice new lobby.
    – Michael Henson’s departure, never again to work with an orchestra on any side of the Atlantic.
    – the Board chair’s departure.
    – hesitancy by the traditional “movers and shakers” to be involved,
    – much talk about new initiatives.
    – musicians will continue to leave Minneapolis for new pastures.
    – Osmo will likely leave.
    – all those thousands of conservatory grads are unlikely to be hired until they have some real orchestral experience.

    Sad and unnecessary.

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