The Orchestra 990 Database Project: Exploratory Poll

Yesterday’s post about the potential for developing an online keyword search database for all professional orchestras produced a good deal of feedback, thanks to everyone who took the time to write in with your thoughts etc. As it stands, there was enough interest that the idea has been officially upgraded to the early stages of exploration. I have my development team from Venture looking into some the tech requirements and I’d be grateful to all of Adaptistration’s readers if you’d take a moment for a short poll (and we do mean short).

The Idea

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-024 In case you missed yesterday’s post, the idea is to create a database of orchestra IRS from 990s that can be searched via keyword and be filtered by taxonomy such as state, League Group, AFM conference, etc. It would function similar in nature to The Foundation Center’s FDOfree
offering, but focus exclusively on orchestras, although it could certainly be expanded to operas, ballets, etc.

The Poll

Although finding a funder for the project is an option, it also brings a host of bear traps related to obtaining nonprofit status. Consequently, the smart move here is to keep it as an LLC; or, given the strength of the overall “public good” nature of the project, it may be ideally suited for taking the L3C model out for a spin.

Either way, thank you in advance for taking the poll, it is genuinely appreciated. I’d like to encourage everyone to send along any ideas, thoughts, or concerns in a comment, email, or via Facebook.Twitter.

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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 “The Orchestra 990 Database Project: Exploratory Poll

  1. Hello Drew, I’m doing some economic research on the performing arts, starting with symphony orchestras and the so called “orchestral crisis” as it impacts bargaining. I’ve been following your blog for a little while and would really like to talk with you at more length, but for now I am really interested in the 990 database idea… what’s the latest?

  2. Hi Heather, the good news is I’ve been over all the technical aspects with my programmers and we know it can be done. We also have a very firm idea of how much time and resources it will take. What’s left is to set aside enough time to craft and launch a Kickstarter campaign and now that my office move is complete, I’m beginning to get back on track with this and a few other regular projects (such as the website reviews).

    Having said all of that, I hesitate offering up any firm time table because business is booming (granted, a good problem to have) and when it comes down to it, the database project and other work will always be scheduled around what needs to be done to make a living.

    In the meantime, feel free to get in touch via the contact page or call my office at 312-465-2895.

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