Is There A Tiny Ray Of Hope Developing In Pittsburgh?

The 10/20/2016 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an article by Elizabeth Bloom which takes a Forward 1 Somersault Straight right into the heart of issues we examined earlier this week via the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) work stoppage.

Adaptistration People 192Bloom’s article provides additional examples illustrating what is perhaps best described as counterproductive entrenchment such as musician claims that the employer refuses to release economic data for the most recent fiscal year.

Two items of note should catch your attention.

First, PSO president and CEO Melia Tourangeau doubles down on the employer’s zero sum bargaining tactic.

…Ms. Tourangeau said the negotiating team is open to other concessionary contract proposals that would save the organization the same amount of money as [the PSO’s last, best, and final] proposal.

This doesn’t bode well for moving forward.

Having said that, there was one sliver of hope in the form of both parties potentially agreeing to introduce an independent financial analyst to examine the PSO’s economic condition. Granted, there are decidedly devil-filled details with this proposal but there is precedent in this approach producing positive results.

For instance, when the Metropolitan Opera was on the brink of a scorched earth war, both sides agreed to a mediator’s suggestion for introducing Eugene Keilin, a financial expert that helped save New York City from bankruptcy in the1970s, into the process (details).

Keilin agreed to perform an independent financial study and provide a non-binding report. When it was all said and done, the Keilin variable was a key element in breaking parties out of entrenched positions and providing necessary political cover for those in board leadership positions to save face.

Ideally, similar results are on the horizon for the PSO.

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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