Special Mid-Day Report: Chicago Symphony Cancellations Snowball

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) announced the cancellation or postponement of scheduled concert activity through April 23. This includes four subscription concerts (4/18, 4/19, 4/20, and 4/21) along with 14 additional events.

The decision to cut such a large swath of events is an indication that even larger cuts are in store barring a new agreement. The musicians recently rejected the CSOA’s last, best, and final offer as it continued to include what the musicians have defined as a showstopper in the form of replacing the defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution pension plan.

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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