Move Forward

2013 was one hell of a year; marked by dizzying highs and crushing lows, most of the field still managed to get to the end in one piece. And although resolutions are a popular past time, I’ve never found them useful; at the same time, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things I’d like to see transpire in 2014 (granted, some are more practical than others).


  • Traditional print culture journalism picks back up and online mediums continue to expand.
  • Nontraditional patron advocacy groups become commonplace and appear outside the auspices of a labor dispute.
  • Efforts to simulcast live concert events spend more time and effort refining broadcast quality and reliability instead of over blowing the PR value.
  • The income gap between the haves and have-nots within larger budget ensembles, from one ensemble to the next, and among stakeholder groups reverses course.
  • A mandatory 10 second brain-to-finger delay is instituted for all social media based commentary.
  • Composers become part of collective bargaining agreements.
  • Ticket fees go the way of the Dodo.
  • Average ticket prices decline thanks to generous and ongoing subsidies from large donors.

What’s on your 2014 wish list?

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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