A Stark Reminder About The Importance Of Transparency And Ethics

The 5/12/2015 edition of BlouinARTINFO Blogs published an article by Larry Blumenfeld that examines (h/t Thomas Cott) a recent instance of nonprofit governance abuse for personal gain.

Adaptistration People 058The details are worth your time but one overarching item in particular that stands out in sea of conflict of interest driven misconduct Blumenfeld chronicles was a decision by one of the nonprofit organizations involved to amend its bylaws so as to accommodate the unethical transgressions. This is an excellent example of what can go wrong with a lack of transparency and no genuine deference toward ethical governance.

It brings to mind some of the more recent situations in our field where board level decisions have been designed to deliberately obfuscate financial records related to executive compensation. And based on the League of American Orchestra’s 2015 Conference agenda, it looks like ethics and transparency aren’t exactly high priority topics (or even a blip on their schedule’s radar).

Consequently, it would be worthwhile to set aside some time to read Blumenfeld’s article then circle back to the post here from 7/14/2014 titled The Death Of Ethics if for no other reason than to keep ethics at the forefront of your mind.

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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