Causation Or Correlation?

Minnesota Orchestra violist and all-around thoughtful professional, Sam Bergman, posted an intriguing thread on Twitter where he wondered aloud about the relationship between orchestras announcing positive/negative financial news and collective bargaining agreement cycles.

And just in case you miss it in the tweets, Sam makes it clear he is not referring to his own orchestra.

Granted, there’s no shortage of observational knowledge but I’m not aware of any formal studies.

I would love to see one if it exists and this sort of empirical study could go a long way toward providing an answer Bergman’s causation or correlation questions.

From a purely anecdotal perspective, I can say that releasing public statements to support a planned bargaining position is an old bargaining tactic. So yes, it happens. But there’s no where near enough reliable information to conduct a meaningful examination.

If there’s an Arts Admin MBA candidate out there looking for a fascinating research project, here it is. If there’s enough data available, I can guarantee it would become a highly valuable commodity as a learning resource.

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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