Talking Met On WQXR

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-044Update: the segment is now live! I had the pleasure of taking part in a panel discussion for WQXR’s bi-weekly podcast Conducting Business, hosted by Naomi Lewin, to talk about the Metropolitan Opera’s ongoing labor negotiations. My fellow panelists included:

[ilink url=””]Or listen via the WQXR website.[/ilink]

One item I meant to bring up but completely forgot about once the conversation started is the potential impact one or more audience advocacy groups may have on the dispute if an agreement isn’t reached by the time the first events are scheduled to begin.

Within the orchestra field, audience advocacy groups have played an increasingly influential role in determining their respective labor dispute’s outcome and from a comparative perspective, opera patrons tend to have a higher degree of vested interest in their performing art medium than their orchestra counterparts. As a result, this might indicate an accelerated degree of involvement.

Over the past few years, organized audience advocacy groups haven’t formed until after a few months into a work stoppage and if that pattern holds firm, we likely won’t see anything emerge via a potential Met work stoppage until October. Nonetheless, these associations are akin to computer hardware development in that each generation ushers in a higher degree of sophistication and power and if the Minnesota Orchestra lockout is any measure, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if a group emerges wielding superior public relations and communication skills than most of the labor organizations involved.

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 “Talking Met On WQXR”

  1. I was a founding member of Save Our Symphony in Detroit. One of the things that saddens me is that we were never allowed to work with DSO management after the strike to help the DSO recover. SOSMN is doing a much better job at that than we did. Hopefully in the future these incredibly dynamic and dedicated groups of music lovers will be seen as a resource, not a threat.

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