It’s rarely a good sign when Sunday morning news talk show topics have more in common with the orchestra field than not and it was difficult to listen to pundits talking about crippling impact of congressional entrenchment without seeing parallels in our field. One of the more surprising items was related to reports that one of the most sacred of Federal cows, the Department of Defense (DoD), is making genuine preparations for previously unimaginable cuts due to ongoing effects from sequestration.
The situation has reached a point where Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been quoted by the Associated Press emphasizing that the DoD’s projected cuts and subsequent results are not exaggeration.
“I know there’s politics in all this,” Hagel said. “But what we’re trying to project here is not crying wolf or not trying to overstate or overhype.”
At first thought, orchestra stakeholders and the Department of Defense (DoD) may not have much in common but we live in interesting times. For example, the ongoing stretch of congressional malaise responsible for sequestration may best be described as a profoundly dysfunctional legislative process dominated by extremist voices within political affiliations that are satisfied with sacrificing a great deal that impacts many in order to achieve goals that benefit ideology over cooperation.
Now, try swapping a few pronouns and see if the same phrase doesn’t suit the ongoing rash of extended work stoppages: the ongoing stretch of orchestral labor disputes responsible for sizable cuts to artistic and non-artistic expense may best be described as a profoundly dysfunctional governance process dominated by extremist voices within stakeholder affiliations that are satisfied with sacrificing a great deal that impacts many in order to achieve goals that benefit ideology over cooperation.
Ultimately, the field is going to have to begin formally addressing the immediate impact of governance strategies that appear to be geared toward little more than reigniting ideology driven all-or-nothing struggles for dominant control that haven’t been seen in the field for decades. Allowing them to continue without broader scrutiny risks allowing what should be nothing more than an unfortunate anomaly in the field’s evolution to become a new, and very regrettable, normal.