There’s a terrific post over at Vu Le’s NWB in the form of nonprofit Halloween stories from nonprofit managers and the one that struck a chord was the First Place contribution about a terrifying tale of board ambush to raise program fees 50 percent. For the orchestra field, program fees translate to earned income; which boils down to mostly ticket prices and related fees.

Adaptistration ZombieI won’t spoil the story but I know more than a few orchestra CEOs and marketing directors that can relate to the zombie board ambush; having said that, I know just as many that have no problem assuming a lead role at the front of the zombie pack and welcome any opportunity to implement increases to average ticket prices and related box office fees.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the really scary part is how much impact this has on maintaining a food source, er, patron base. If there was ever a better topic to use for a discussion about sustainability, I have yet to find one.

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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