Eyes On A Singular Prize

The 5/29/2017 edition of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article by Corinne Ramey that examines a program from Carnegie Hall that takes music into New York’s juvenile-justice. What’s particularly interesting is Carnegie’s decision to go beyond simply performing and engage participants.

Carnegie began its justice-system programs in 2009, as part of broader outreach work in homeless shelters, nursing homes and correctional facilities. Initially, participants watched performances, but staff realized writing songs and lyrics more successfully engaged students, particularly young people.

Adaptistration Guy 005The article goes on to examine Carnegie’s decision to scale back other outreach programs in order to focus more resources on this program, which is good to see.

Most groups tend to cast as wide of a net as possible and they tend to produce jack of all trades, master of none results. In addition to the increased focus, it’s heartening to see the Carnegie program shift from limited tracking efforts to something more in-depth and sustained.

The more arts organizations can quantify the impact of arts programs on at-risk segments of society, the better. Hopefully, Carnegie will be releasing their data as the program develops.

Until then, give Ramey’s article a read. I believe it’s behind the WSJ paywall; if so, I apologize in advance if you can’t access it but I certainly don’t blame media outlets for valuing their content and writers.

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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