Must-Read Friday

When faced with all the challenges that are genuinely out of our control, it never ceases to surprise me when nonprofit performing arts organizations overlook the things they have control over.

Earlier this week, Joe Patti published an article that examines one of the most commonly overlooked issues: creating an environment that fosters a sense of inclusion and belonging. Or to perhaps be more specific, it’s an issue that does get addressed, but winds up using counterproductive methods.

Creating a sense of inclusion and belonging aren’t out of our control but in order to really capitalize, we need to come to terms with how our patrons really see us. Patti hits this beartrap square on the nose.

…she had never entered the gallery due to concerns about whether she would be allowed to enter and if she was dressed properly.

Looking at the same gallery through the windows from the street, I would describe it as having a welcoming homey quality, but that isn’t what she saw.

Her candid conversations just reinforced for me the research findings that point to just how strong an influence one’s sense of belonging has in whether people participate in an experience or not. It is the invitation to participate, how the invitation is framed, who extends it and what the experience is that matters much more than the sticker price.

The full post is a great read and a thoughtful way to end your week.

Perception Is More Powerful Than Money

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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