Nothing But No In Minnesota

An article by Graydon Royce in the 8/15/13 edition of the Star-Tribune reports that the Minnesota Orchestra Association’s (MOA) lockout remains unchanged after recent attempts by the mutually agreed upon mediator to broker a framework for re-engaging negotiations have failed to produce results. The most recent proposals involving ending the lockout for a temporary period of four months under a play and talk arrangement were rejected by the MOA board.


The rebuffed proposal would have removed pressures related to the September 9, 2013 deadline that music director Osmo Vanska has given for resigning if the orchestra is not back to work.

These recent events add credence to growing concerns among the MOA’s patrons that the organization they once knew will be forever lost. Additional musician departures add momentum to an already speedy snowball of artistic brain drain but another report indicates that this, along with Vanska’s impending exit, is of inconsequential outcomes toward a singular goal.

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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6 thoughts on “Nothing But No In Minnesota”

  1. The proposal rejected by the MOA Board would have also required the musicians to submit the precious financial COUNTERPROPOSAL the MOA Board/management have been harping on since the beginning—and asap. This was reported by local station KSTP:
    For me, the fact that the MOA board refused a proposal which would have given them the one thing that supposedly has been their main sticking point for months said it all. The MOA Board has no interest in negotiating.

  2. Looks like the Colorado Symphony is one beneficiary of the bull-headed and mean-spirited stupidity of the MOA board, since the Colorado Symphony just elevated Andrew Litton’s title from Artistic Adviser to Music Director, as Andrew Litton is music director of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest (and has more time on his hands thanks to the MOA). Litton has kept quiet that I can tell, but frankly, it would be interesting if both Vanska and Litton stepped down from their posts in protest.

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