Some Good News From Atlanta

Although any time works for good fundraising news, it is especially nice to see some now and we can thank the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) for today’s installment.

Adaptistration People 038If you recall, in the wake of the ASO’s most recent work stoppage, the employer and musicians agreed to an arrangement where the musician complement (the number of salaried musicians employed by the organization) would be increased in tandem with fundraising benchmarks via a $25 million capital campaign.

Late last week, the ASO announced that it met the campaign goal thanks to a $2.5 million gift from the Delta Air Lines Foundation, which according to an article by Bo Emerson in the 10/27/2016 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was almost two years ahead of schedule.

The campaign’s success allows the ASO to begin replenishing its musician compliment which dropped to 77 after the 2014 work stoppage, an 18 percent reduction from it pre-labor dispute(s) era.

Both the employer and musicians have been expressing a great deal of gratitude toward donors and per Emerson’s article, they are making steady headway on new musician hires.

As of this fall, the ASO has recruited six new players, has added three more to replace musicians who have retired or passed away, and also finished its second fiscal year with a surplus. (Part of the surplus is redistributed to the musicians according to a formula.)

It’s good to see an organization make progress toward parity as opposed to simply maintaining a new normal level of operations lower than before the respective labor dispute. It helps demonstrate that the field is anything but black and white when it comes to growth and retrenchment.

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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