San Antonio CEO Spot Is Open (again)

According to an article by David Hendricks in the 7/31/2013 edition of, the San Antonio Symphony (SAS) lost their latest CEO after not even three months into the gig. The SAS had a series of high turnovers in the top administrative spot following the organization’s bankruptcy in 2004 and they’ve given the top admin spot to executives from Coca-Cola to NASA as well as more traditional candidates.

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-043There’s no official word about why the most recent ex-CEO, Jack Downey, left but the article contains some quotes from SAS board chair Dennert Ware that indicate the exit had something to do with a disagreement on budget strategy.

We’ve worked hard to build momentum in this community, and we can’t afford now to lose that momentum as we prepare next year to move into the Tobin Center.

Nonetheless, the SAS board is reportedly taking the departure in stride and given the amount of search experience to date, they should be able to get a search going in short order. Ideally, the last search had a few finalist level candidates worth taking another look at so they may be able to get a new person in place in short order.

If nothing else, San Antonio is a genuinely lovely city. Anyone want a job running the orchestra? Knowledge of classical music helpful, but not necessary (seriously though, you should know what you’re doing)…

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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