Remembering That We Have More In Common Than Not

On the eve of the English National Opera labor showdown, I wanted to take a moment to revisit some research I put together as part of the What’s Working and Must Work session within the 2012 American Orchestras Summit, hosted by the University of Michigan. Titled What The Other Side Gets Right, I invited a cross section of managers, board members, and musicians to answer one of two straightforward questions:

  1. Orchestra musicians were asked “What do you think Boards/Managers get right?”
  2. Board members and managers were asked “What do you think Musicians’ Unions get right?”

Although some individuals declined to participate due to high levels of animosity toward their fellow stakeholders, I found many of the replies from those who accepted the challenge to be enlightening.

Adaptistration People 079To this day, I revisit those responses and interview notes whenever I’m feeling particularly dark about the future of the field. In many instances, the rationale behind answers serves as an uplifting confidence boost in the real potential for positive labor relations.

Unfortunately, the What’s Working and Must Work session ended up having (more than) a few additional panelists stuffed into the already healthy mix and my portion, as closing panelist, ended up with the short end of the stick receiving all of 390 seconds.

Having said that, the real irony here is this is the same event where International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) chair, Bruce Ridge, and League of American Orchestras President, Jesse Rosen, tore into one another like a bag of angry badgers.

Thankfully, all of the stakeholders who participated in the What The Other Side Gets Right survey gave their permission to publish their responses, and you can find those replies in a post from March 22, 2012.

Among all of Adaptistration’s 3,000+ articles, it remains one of my unmitigated favorites. If it’s new to you or it’s been some time since you read it, do yourself a favor and set aside some time to visit.

Read What The Other Side Gets Right

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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