Forget Walking A Mile In Their Shoes, Try A Stream Of New Concertgoer Inner Monologue

Adaptistration People 090There’s an entertaining and thought-provoking article in the 1/7/2017 edition of The New Yorker by Kirk J. Rudell that provides an exclusive broadcast of his inner monologue as a first-time concertgoer. There is no shortage of amusing entries in his attendee stream of consciousness but the entire exercise reminded me of a Take A Friend To the Orchestra project from 2005 that featured taking a first timer concertgoer to his first event then talk through the experience the next day live on the radio.

The idea was the brainchild of WNYC’s John Schaefer (and then producer Brian Wise) and we used his brother as the concert-goer then followed up on Soundcheck the next day. Here how John described the event:

May is “Take a Friend to Orchestra Month,” a new initiative started by Drew McManus, author of the blog “Adaptistration”, in order to bring newcomers to the concert hall. In the spirit of the month, Drew has taken host John Schaefer’s brother Jerry to a concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Jerry has previously never been to an orchestral concert, busy as he is running a lumber yard in Queens. Today, we get Jerry’s reaction to the experience when both he and Drew join us on the program.

It was an enormously fruitful and gratifying experience. Spoiler alert: Jerry ended up liking the concert experience (or in his words a solid 2/3 of it) and the entire episode has an almost old-world quality to it when you take into consideration that everything happened two years before the first Smartphone was released.

And since we’re thinking about Take A Friend To The Orchestra, if the program is new to you, you’ve been missing out. Fortunately, there’s an entire resource site dedicated to the nearly 100 contributions from some of the sharpest, engaging, and provocative minds in the business.

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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