Minnesota’s Eleventh(ish) Hour

Although it was anticipated that Minnesota Orchestra Association (MOA) music director Osmo Vanska would make a decision this week about whether or not he would resign, it appears that the cycle of hurry up and wait has been extended to 9/30/2013. And when they say the 30th that apparently means the 15th. Confused? You should be.

150x150_ITA_Guy188Specifically, although Vanska has apparently indicated that he now needs rehearsals to resume by the week of 9/30/13 but on 9/9/13 MOA President and CEO Michael Henson told Euan Kerr at Minnesota Public Radio that means an agreement with musicians must be reached by 9/15/13 in order to arrange for rehearsals to begin 15 days later.

Given the severity of the situation, it may be difficult for some to believe that the orchestra’s managers and staffers aren’t capable of getting rehearsals going with as little as 24 hours notice, especially if the alternative meant losing the music director and cancelling a Carnegie appearance. Consequently, it would be interesting to know what the professionals in the MOA’s operations department think about Henson’s interpretation of Vanska’s revised deadline.

Nonetheless, the musicians typically require 72 hours to review an offer and hold a ratification meeting so barring any changes to that timeframe, and giving the MOA managers and staffers the benefit of the doubt they deserve as competent professionals, the organization realistically has until 9/26/13 to get a deal signed and delivered in order to get rehearsals going by Vanska’s revised deadline.

At the same time, don’t be caught off guard if things take a sharp left turn a few more times before it is all said and done.

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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5 thoughts on “Minnesota’s Eleventh(ish) Hour”

  1. Drew, there’s much more to getting the orchestra up and running again than simply opening Orchestra Hall, getting the musicians on stage, and Osmo on the podium. Yes, they’d be in rehearsal, but before then, there’s contractual paperwork to complete by the musicians’ Personnel Manager (as I understand it), and the music library to get up and running. The librarians were locked out with the musicians, their music library has been moved twice because of the Hall renovations, and god knows where it is now. So, you see, 15 days may not even be enough time to get done what needs to be done.

    • My reply is the same thing I wrote in the article. Are all of those tasks near-Herculean? Certainly; but for the most part, the people working in the trenches of orchestra administration managers aren’t a bunch of bumbling half-wits. Simply put, they can rise to the challenge of making things happen, especially when the stakes are this high.

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