A Rare Retrospective Treat

Labor disputes and institutional crises tend to garner plenty of attention in traditional media outlets as they unfold, but follow-up articles are fewer in number. Most tend to be puff pieces crafted more by an organization’s PR department than a genuine post mortem, but the 3/16/2018 edition of Texas Public Radio (TPR) published an exception to the rule.

Adaptistration People 133Their short segment examines the tumultuous week at the San Antonio Symphony (SAS) at the beginning of 2018 that witnessed what stakeholders thought would be the orchestra’s end. Instead, the organization managed to find a lifeline in the form of clarifying actual vs. (inaccurately) perceived debt and bridge funding to continue the rest of the season with enough left over to begin the process of recovering from a failed successorship process.

We examined those events as they unfolded; you can refresh your memory at the SAS article archive and be sure to take the time to listen to the TPR segment or read the transcript.

In the end, the more unscripted examination of watershed moments in the field, the better.

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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