When It Comes To Federal Funding, It’s Good For The Goose Only When Convenient

Adaptistration People 173In the wake of yesterday’s vote to make Betsy DeVos the new Secretary of Education, I only have a short post today. It’s tough to miss the irony of a conservative majority Senate approving a Secretary who is such an inexorable backer of directing public money to private academic institutions (charter schools) when it also espouses the arts and humanities should survive based solely on demand based economics.

The field will certainly push back against planned defunding of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). To that end, keep this point tucked away for your own individual conversations whenever you encounter the “if people want it, they’ll pay for it” argument.

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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