The Latest Update In Orchestra Workplace Satisfaction: Summer 2019

It has been just over six months since the last time we examined the value of improving orchestra workplace satisfaction which means it is high time to see where things are related to your efforts on increasing the quantity and frequency of reviews at from arts administrators and staffers about their respective orchestra employers.

This article is part of an ongoing special series that tracks workplace satisfaction. We publish two installments per year. If you are interested in helping out by collecting data and identifying organizations that should be added to the list, let me know (I would be grateful for the assistance!).

A Few Highlights

Since January 2019:

  • There were 25 new reviews across eight organizations.
  • The average score remained the same from the last review: a 3.4 out of 5.0, which works out to a 68 percent satisfaction rate (which was identical to opera workplace satisfaction levels).
  • The Pittsburgh Symphony saw a large uptick in the number of reviews, going from three to 11. Consequently, the new reviews dropped their score from 3.6 to 2.7.

Summer 2019 Results

# reviews (current) # reviews (previous) Score, max 5.0  (current) Score, max 5.0  (previous)
Alabama Symphony Orchestra 1 1 3.0 3.0
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra 4 5 3.7 2.8
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra 9 9 3.8 3.8
Boston Symphony Orchestra 34 33 4.0 3.9
Charlotte Symphony Orchestra 6 4 2.8 2.5
Chicago Symphony Orchestra 26 25 3.7 3.7
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra 7 5 4.4 4.6
Cleveland Orchestra 11 10 3.3 3.0
Colorado Symphony Orchestra 8 8 3.0 3.0
Dallas Symphony Orchestra 13 13 3.4 3.4
Detroit Symphony Orchestra 12 10 2.8 3.2
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra 8 8 2.5 2.5
Grand Rapids Symphony 5 5 3.3 3.3
Houston Symphony Orchestra 8 7 3.8 3.8
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra 10 10 4.5 4.5
Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra 3 3 3.8 3.8
Los Angeles Philharmonic 42 41 3.9 3.9
Lubbock Symphony Orchestra 5 5 4.1 4.1
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra 1 1 2.0 2.0
Minnesota Orchestra 9 9 4.4 4.4
Nashville Symphony Orchestra 15 14 3.8 3.8
New York Philharmonic 11 11 3.9 3.9
Pacific Symphony Orchestra 11 11 2.2 2.2
Philadelphia Orchestra 13 12 2.8 2.8
Phoenix Symphony Orchestra 4 4 3.7 3.7
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra 11 3 2.7 3.6
San Diego Symphony Orchestra 8 5 2.3 2.5
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra 37 36 3.0 3.0
Seattle Symphony Orchestra 11 10 3.9 3.9
STL Symphony 4 4 4.8 4.8
Toledo Symphony Orchestra 6 6 3.1 3.1
Utah Symphony & Opera 2 2 4.5 4.5
Virginia Symphony Orchestra 4 4 2.8 2.8

Looking Ahead

Your efforts to improve workplace satisfaction transparency continue to bear fruit; as such, it is more important than ever to continue in this direction. The more you contribute, the better positioned you’ll be at implementing positive change by making sure more opera managers are aware that something like exists and can be used by both current and former employees.

Consequently, be sure you reach out and encourage your colleagues to leave reviews for their respective employers; it will only help accelerate progress.

Why This Matters

Regular readers know that the topic of Workplace Satisfaction is one of the more popular here at Adaptistration and even though it continues to remain firmly swept under the rug for the field as a whole, that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it.

To that end, serves as a useful benchmark for gauging current and previous employee satisfaction and after a bit of research, it turns out there are enough orchestra employers listed in their database to produce a worthwhile overview.

Granted, there are certainly critics of services like, which allow members to post review content anonymously, but some Google sleuthing turns up more favorable reviews than not.

Correction: the original version of this article had the Jacksonville Symphony linked to a Glass door page for the Jackson Symphony (different group). Ironcily, both groups have the same number of reviews and the average review score for Jackson is 3.7 and Jacksonville is 3.8. As such, the change didn’t impact the overall averages but the Jacksonville data has now been updated with the correct info.

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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