One Step Forward, Two Steps Back For Musicians And Airports

Just when it looked like it might be safe to dip a toe in the waters of airline travel, a recent incident involving the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and flutist Jessica Schmitz at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport should bring some old fashioned Jaws level anxiety back to the process.

Norman Lebrecht detailed Schmitz’s account in SlippedDisc article from 10/4/2015 and it is a genuinely stomach wrenching account involving what appears to be the result of nothing more than one or more TSA agent’s callous attitude.

On a related note, there’s a timely video titled “Why The TSA Doesn’t Stop Terrorist Attacks” from Adam Conover, host of truTV’s Adam Ruins Everything, a television program that uses “a combination of comedy, history and science to dispel widespread misconceptions about everything we take for granted.”

Although it isn’t likely to help Schmitz feel any better about her ordeal, it does provide some entirely relevant context to the incident (and hopefully a bit of vindication for Schmitz). Be sure not to miss the bit at 3:12 about “security theater.”

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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