More Sexual Misconduct And Institutional Unrest

The 11/5/2018 edition of the Boston Globe published an article by Kay Lazar that reports on upheaval at the Boston Philharmonic. The source of their disorder comes in the form of a pair of senior artistic figures have been dismissed due to charges of sexual misconduct.

Associate conductor, Benjamin Vickers, and artistic advisor, David St. George, are both no longer associated with the organization.

St. George was arrested in late September 2018 and charged with one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.

According to an affidavit, Homeland Security Investigations in May received a tip about a storage account suspected of containing child porn. The account contained 83 images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children, including a 1-year-old girl. The IP address to the account was assigned to St. George’s internet account, according to the affidavit prepared by a special agent of Homeland Security Investigations.

After obtaining a warrant, investigators searched St. George’s home on Tuesday, where they found thousands of files of child pornography, including images or videos of the abuse of children between 6 and 8 years old.

Vickers resigned in late September 2018 after student members of the orchestra provided the employer with copies of inappropriate Facebook messages sent to them by Vickers.

Two of the students, both over 18, shared with the Globe copies of Facebook messages from Vickers. In one, Vickers repeatedly asked the young man about his sexual preferences and whether he was circumcised. That chain of messages stretches from August through September.

Adaptistration People 149This is just the latest in what has become a growing string of incidents involving rampant sexual misconduct throughout all levels of the field; one of the most recent was the sexual misconduct investigation and subsequent musician dismissals at the Cleveland Orchestra.

Next week, we’ll be taking a closer look at recent HR measures put in place at the Cleveland Orchestra at the recommendation of their independent investigators. The organization has graciously provided additional details beyond what has been made available to date.

As of today, I’m waiting for replies from the orchestra to several key follow-up questions but regardless the outcome, we’ll begin examining what exists after I return from the 2018 National Arts Marketing Project Conference.

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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