Alex Ross Couldn’t Be More Right

In an 11/25/2013 article from The New Yorker, the ever sharp Alex Ross vents some frustration toward the Minnesota Orchestra Association (MOA) leadership, the growing difficulty of mid and smaller budgets org to pull funding from the name brand institutions, and the ennui that is political concerns about culture.

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-069Ross doesn’t mince words and goes so far as to accuse the MOA management of “stoop[ing] to ruthless union-busting tactics” and calling outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s comments on the demise of the New York City Opera” feeble.”

And even though he characterizes the MOA musicians as easily holding the high ground in that dispute’s war of words he does point fingers at the orchestra musicians in Chicago and San Francisco for lacking nobility and being too anxious “to jump into conflict mode.”

Ross doesn’t come across as trying to balance the piece by lumping criticism on both sides of the scales; rather, he’s simply calling it as he sees it and based on much of the overall reaction from across a wide across segment of the entire field, he’s among the majority in identifying much of what is turning off supporters to whatever message lurks under the surface.

The burning question here is how do we save the field from itself?

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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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