Musician Dress Codes: The Topic With Staying Power

Overcoming tradition combined with the challenge of practicality conspire to produce increasingly elusive solutions when it comes to updating musician dress codes.

Adaptistration People 128Having said that, it’s always a bit irksome is when groups attempt to address the issue by throwing money at it in the form of custom designs.

Yes, it’s fun to play what-if dress up with foundation dollars and quite a few of those projects over the years have produced some genuinely creative results. Unfortunately, none of them have been practical or affordable.

Nonetheless, better options are clearly rooted in a more practical approach. The problem with being practical is it means allocating time to slog through a good bit of mind-numbing detail and research.

In the end, ideal outcomes focus on not only stage appearance and artist comfort but how easy and/or affordable it is for substitutes to meet those requirements.

One notable advancement in this area is from the Seattle Symphony and a recent article by Holly Mulcahy at Neo Classical not only examines this topic but it includes Seattle’s actual dress code from their collective bargaining agreement.

Can We Update Our Look To This Century….Please.

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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