You Do Not Want To Push Any Of These Buttons

Anyone with more than a handful of time working in this field has encountered one of several progress roadblocks in the form of hearing about why something can’t be done.

Recently, Ceci Dadisman published a bit of an arts admin rant at Medium about three of the more frustrating examples that are practically mantra in this field: “We’ve always done it that way,” “We don’t have the budget for that,” and “We don’t have time for that.

It’s a cathartic read (to say the least) and you would have to be blind not to notice the overarching theme of negativity.

Consequently, the article reinforced just how important it is for the field as a whole to launch a conscious effort to begin pushing aback against those old habits. One excellent way to go about that is using Kelly Leonard’s Yes, and… approach to planning and creative problem solving.

Leonard has written a book about the process and has a great TEDx talk.

Violinist Holly Mulcahy has written about how she’s applied his approach to several successful endeavors, not the least of which led to the founding of her nonprofit, Arts Capacity, which helps people in need through the power of art, culture, communication, and live music to cope with challenges and develop the capacity to experience change for good.

Yes, And. The Early Days Of A New Nonprofit

I’ve also watched her wield those tools when collaborating with composer George S. Clinton for her new violin concerto, which premiers this April (more on that in a future article).

But what about you? I would be shocked if you haven’t encountered those negativity roadblocks from Dadisman’s article. How do you deal with them?

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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